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Saturday, Sep. 22, 2018
15U Jam boys really excited for provincials
by Randy Pascal

One could hardly blame the Sudbury 15U Jam Boys for looking forward to the 2017 Ontario Cup Provincials more than most previous years.

Now in his third year as head coach of the group, Eric Maag has augmented the talent pool with the additions, in the past few years, of Noah Carpino, Andrew Middleton, Chris Valcin and Anthony Levesque, adding noticeably more size to the mix.

But it is their growth, as a unit, that allows Maag to enjoy a sense of optimism in heading to London with a squad that had reeled off twelve straight wins in Ontario Basketball League action in recent months.

"It's how they are moving the ball, it's how they now understand the game as a team unit that is fun to see as a coach," he said. "I think we had a lot of great individual athletes that are now not only individual athletes that are shining, but as a group are shining as well."

"What we see is some nice basketball where they are moving the ball, all five guys getting touches, some nice easy finishes - and they're shooting the three as well with more confidence."

It's a step forward that has not gone unnoticed by 14 year old 6'1" post player Noah Carpino, who transitioned over to more of a wing and forward three/four slot with a very talented group of senior Lasalle Lancers, despite being only in grade nine.

"We have all improved a lot more this year," said Carpino. "Our team ball is better, better ball movement and just using each other. It's these team improvements that have helped us the most. Being able to read each other, know each other's instincts, talking and communication on defense, all helps us a lot."

On a personal level, the chance to assume greater responsibility outside of the paint as an underaged player with the Lancers has only added diversity to what is already a fairly impressive skill-set.

"It helped my guard skills, my dribbling, my ability to see the floor, and it definitely helped my shooting a little bit." St Benedict Bears' guard Eric Huneault has been with the Jam for three years now, thankful for the fact that the team roster has not remained stagnant.

"Two years ago, we got new assets to the team, and now that we have more experience together, it's really coming together," he said. "It's less individual. Before, it was guards going in and trying to do their thing. Now, it's more driving in and kicking it out, trying to get the open three - and we're hitting more of them."

And though much has been made of the progress this age bracket has demonstrated offensively, Maag is not about to abandon to notion that the key to victories on a provincial scale lies at the other end of the court.

"For Sudbury, in general, we start with defense," he said. "We have fine-tuned the zone that we play, which is a little more complex zone. The guys have to be sharper and really read and react. They've done really well in learning that."

The 2016-2017 edition of the Sudbury 15U Jam Boys features Ta Mbvaimbai, Brennan Maag, Nicholas Burke, Chris Valcin, Noah Carpino, Anthony Levesque, Carter Rouillard, Tylor Davidson, Eric Huneault, Andrew Middleton and coaches Eric Maag and Will Stevens.

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