Brantford’s Catholic high schools are keeping their boys basketball teams active as they hope for a return of the Brant league.
With teachers at local public high schools continuing a boycott of extracurricular activities, the St. John’s College Green Eagles and Assumption College Lions are finding competition from surrounding regions.
Green Eagles coach Michael Doherty, who is not a teacher at St. John’s, said his team is making the best of a bad situation.
“It could be worse,” Doherty said. “They could not be practicing at all. But they want to remain active and we have the gym time, so we’ve been making do.”
The public teachers remain on a work-to-rule campaign they began in December in protest of the Ontario Liberal government’s decision to impose a contract on them that included wage freezes and the removal of bankable sick days.
High school sport leagues in Brant, which are usually composed of four public high schools and two catholic high schools, are shut down until the public teachers decide to resume extracurricular activities. Currently, boys basketball, girls volleyball, boys hockey and girls hockey are on hiatus.
Local coaches with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation are following a union directive to remain away from high school sports for the time being.
The union has not said if that position will change if Bill 115 – the legislation that was used to impose a two-year contract on the teachers at the start of the month – is repealed by the government.
Todd Andrew, the convener of the Brant boys basketball league and a teacher at North Park Collegiate, remains hopeful.
“My hope is a resolution to the current education conflict can be resolved by the end of the month, which would allow us to salvage a boys basketball season,” Andrew said. “If teachers go back to providing extracurricular activities by the start of the second semester (Feb. 4) then I will have a schedule in place to continue with our season. If that deadline is not met, I can’t see a winter season being completed.”
Doherty said his Green Eagles have been doing well, but are not as sharp as he hoped they would be due to the lack of local competition.
“It’s hurting everybody,” he said. “It’s great that we get to practice, do tournaments and do exhibition games, but we miss the local league.”
The Green Eagles and Lions will also have their eyes on representing the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association at the provincial Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship.
CWOSSA’s executive director confirmed to the Waterloo Region Record this week that plans are in place to have a regional representative at the provincial tournament.
“At this point, there definitely will be teams representing CWOSSA at the OFSAA level, it just depends on which format we’re going to use to get those teams qualified,” Barry Mutrie said.
OFSAA executive director Doug Gellatly confirmed last week that his organization would continue with championships as long as there was a convener and enough teams participating.
The Brant County Secondary School Athletics Association is one of nine districts that make up CWOSSA.
“We are just waiting to hear what we would have to do to get in (to CWOSSA or OFSAA),” Doherty said. “We still have another couple tournaments and are organizing exhibition games to stay ready.”
The Green Eagles will face off against the Assumption Lions at St. John’s College on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in an exhibition game. The team will also be competing in the All Ontario Catholic Classic tournament and a tournament hosted by Assumption College in coming weeks.
The senior Green Eagles bowed out in the consolation semifinal at the Monsignor Doyle tournament in Cambridge on the weekend.
The junior Green Eagles and junior Lions made noise at the Resurrection-Huron Heights Purple and Gold tournament in Kitchener, advancing to an all-Brantford showdown in the bronze medal game on Sunday.
The Green Eagles erased an 11-point deficit at the half to win the game 50-48.
Adrian Mendoza led the St. John’s junior squad with 24 points and was named to the tournament’s first-team all-stars, averaging 26 points per game.
The Lions’ Mike King was also named a first-team all-star with a total of 65 points during the tournament.
– With files from the Waterloo Region Record and www.cwossabasketball.com.