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Stepping up his game
Fort Simpson athlete plays in national basketball championships

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Fort Simpson athlete has helped represent the territories at a national level basketball tournament.

NNSL photo/graphic

The territories basketball team that competed in the 17U Men's National Championships in Toronto was made up of athletes from across the three territories. The players included, from left, back row, assistant coach Emmanuel Ramos, Greg Tanuyak, Peter Hanson, Brian Prenoslo, Laurent Isaiah, Elliott Berg, Hugh Evalik, assistant coach Lazarus Attungala, head coach Tim Brady; front row, from left, Gerard New, Narek Khachatryan, Narlie Dapilos, Cody Park and Troy Owingayak. - photo courtesy of Gord Everett

Laurent Isaiah, 17, was one of 12 players on the territories team that competed in the 17U Men's National Championships in Toronto from Aug. 2 to 6. This is the highest level that Isaiah has competed at to date.

"It was pretty exciting," he said.

Isaiah, who is entering Grade 11 this year, started playing basketball in Grade 9. He said he was drawn to the sport because a lot of people were playing it and it looked interesting.

Earlier this year Isaiah, who plays forward, was identified as one of the prospective players from the NWT to play on the team that was going to the nationals. He attended an all-territories basketball development camp in Yellowknife in April where the potential players were assessed for a week. Isaiah was one of 12 athletes including three from Yellowknife, two from Nunavut and six from the Yukon to make the cut.

"I was excited. I was so happy," said Isaiah.

To prepare for the championships, the team met in Whitehorse on July 12 for three weeks of training. The athletes had at least one two-hour practice per day and sometimes two practices totalling 3.5 hours.

The practices focused on building team chemistry, running plays and reviewing defensive tactics, said Isaiah. By the end he said he could see the team coming together.

In Toronto, the territories team faced squads from the provinces. The territories team lost all of its games with scores of 99-37 against Nova Scotia, 109-47 against Quebec, 101-55 against New Brunswick and 96-70 against Prince Edward Island.

Despite finishing last, Tim Brady, the head coach, said the team accomplished its goals. The objective was to improve with every game collectively and as individuals, and that happened, he said.

"It was a great experience for everyone including me," said Brady. "We certainly represented the territories fairly well."

Both Brady and Isaiah agree that the team's final game against P.E.I. was its most successful.

"We just improved how we were playing," said Brady.

The players felt more confident and comfortable on the court and there was a higher percentage of shooting from the floor and the free-throw line, he said.

Isaiah said the last game was also his personal best. During the game he scored 14 points and had nine rebounds.

"He was a great team member," said Brady. "He had a very serious approach."

For Isaiah and the other athletes from the territories, playing at this level was a new experience. They all played hard while up against good players, said Brady.

Overall Isaiah said he thinks the team did pretty good at the championships. Looking forward, Isaiah said he'd like to play college ball. He and two of his team members were asked by a coach from P.E.I. to come play for Holland College. Isaiah is considering the offer.

For now, Isaiah said he will continue playing for Thomas Simpson School's Wolfpack.

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