AMHERST – It has been two seasons since Cumberland County high school basketball teams have chased the dream of a provincial championship.
The NSSAF basketball season was cancelled last season because of the labour dispute between teachers and the provincial government and the teachers work to rule campaign. While teachers are prepared again to go into battle with the province over education reforms, it won’t impact this weekend’s championship weekend.
“We’ve had a successful season overall, winning three tournaments and getting a chance to match up with some very strong teams,” Vikings’ coach Thomas Skabar said. “Division 2 seems to have several very competitive teams, so it should be a great provincial tournament weekend.”
Skabar said his hope as coach is for the players to come together and play the way he knows they can when the games is on the line.
“With five seniors on the team it’s important for me that those guys end their high school careers on a high note, proud of what they achieved as representatives of their school and community,” Skabar said.
The ARHS Vikings are in the Annapolis Valley at King’s-Edgehill School, entering the tournament ranked second out of eight teams. The Vikings, who earned a berth in the championships with a qualifying win over Breton Education Centre last Friday in New Waterford, open against seventh-seeded West Kings at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Dr. J.H. Gillis of Antigonish is the top seed with SAERC of Port Hawkesbury ranked third, Shelburne fourth, Millwood fifth, King’s-Edgehill sixth and Sommet eighth.
Semifinal matchups are Friday with the championship game on Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Charlie Chambers coached ARHS Vikings are in Shelburne for the Division 2 girl’s championship tournament.
Chambers says the girls are pumped to play at the provincial championships but says it will be important for them stay focused and engaged.
“If we play strong on defence, it will trigger the offence,” said Chambers.
The Vikings senior girls have five Grade 12 players playing their last season with ARHS; Jemma Todoschuk, Tameka Hussey, Sharon McCrossin, Emma Gould and Emma Bickerton.
Amherst is seeded fourth and opens Thursday at 8 p.m. against fifth-ranked Breton Education Centre while Hants East is ranked first, Carrefour is seeded second, West Kings is third and Millwood is sixth.
Central Kings enters the tournament in seventh and host Shelburne is eighth.
The championship game is Saturday at 3 p.m.
Pugwash is hosting the Division 3 girl’s tournament and the powerful Oxford Regional Education Centre Golden Bears are one of three Cumberland County teams in the mix.
Oxford enters the tournament as the top seed with Springhill seeded sixth and host Pugwash in eighth. Oxford and Pugwash meet to open the tournament at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Springhill opens at 6 against Cabot High, which is ranked third.
Other teams include second-seeded Baddeck, fourth-ranked Halifax Grammar, fifth-ranked Lockeport and seventh-ranked Pictou Academy.
Halifax Grammar is hosting the Division 3 boy’s tournament with Pugwash, ranked first, being the only Cumberland County school in action.
Pugwash opens against eighth-seeded North Queens at 2 p.m.
Other teams are second-seeded Hants North, third-seeded Drumlin, fourth-seeded AWEC, sixth-ranked Guysborough and seventh ranked Halifax Grammar.