In just over a week, R.D. Parker Collegiate’s gyms will be the site of high school basketball provincials for the first time since 2012 and this time it will host both the boys’ and girls’ championships.
Eight boys’ and eight girls’ teams with about 250 to 300 players collectively will arrive in Thompson March 15 in preparation for the first games of their respective tournaments the following day. Championship and consolation playoffs will take place March 17 and the finals will be played on March 18.
RDPC senior girls’ basketball coach Christine Sim, the convenor overseeing the championships, was still in university the last time Thompson hosted the high school basketball provincials and says it will be a treat for her players to close out their season and, for graduating students, their high school basketball careers, in the familiar confines of their home gym.
“It's just nice to be able to have the kids able to play in the gym again,” Sim said. “With the way that zones are now we don't get as many teams coming here to play against us so it's nice to have the other teams come up and see us for a change.”
As is usually the case when an event like this takes place in Thompson, there’s a little more planned that just basketball, Sim says. The evening before play gets underway at 10 a.m. March 16 will serve as a welcome night, with swag provided by Ridgestone Financial and Corey Murdy at Sunlife. Thursday evening will feature Winterfest activities with an Indigenous perspective after play has wrapped up for the day. Players will also have the opportunity to take in a movie at the Letkemann Theatre on Friday night.
As fun as all the festivities included in the tournament will be, the main focus is basketball and there are good things and bad things about playing at home, says Anaya Permanand, one of the Grade 12 players on the senior girls’ Trojans.
“If we were gone away, then it would be like a little bit different, but I think it'll be more emotional for all the girls that are graduating,” she said. “We’ll be finishing at home.”
Because of that, the atmosphere will be a little louder, which might require some adjustment,
“We're going to need to learn how to focus because it’s not ever loud when we play [down south], like ever at all,” says Permanand. “It’ll be exciting.”
Permanand knows she and her teammates will be in tough at the competition. Only teams who win their first games have a shot at advancing to the final. Lose a second match and you’re knocked out of the consolation bracket as well.
“It's a really advanced level of competition,” she says. “It's a lot harder.”
“It's the best of the best teams that are going to be here,” Sim says.
Spectators who want to take in the tournament can get weekend passes for $10, which are available in the school’s front office now or at the gym entrance once the tournament starts. Those who only want to attend for one day can get a single-day pass for $5.
Unlike many other high school basketball tournaments, including provincials, which aren’t usually available to watch except in person, this year’s will be livestreamed as well.