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A prize season without the banners
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A championship banner is not always the coveted prize that trumps all others.

While the Sudbury U14 Storm boys would not have minded at all should such a performance have come their way, the 2023-2024 season was all about personal growth - both as basketball players and as young men.

"The real story of this team was friendship and development," noted head coach Devin Kinsella. "They set aside school rivalries, personality, character and even cultural differences and demonstrated true friendship and camaraderie."

"Moreover, each player put in the needed time and effort into improving their skills so that they could give the team valuable on-court minutes."

After a 2-4 opening half-season of OBL (Ontario Basketball League) play, the Storm closed off with a 4-2 run including season-ending wins over both the Oshawa Commanders (54-46) and the Northumberland Edge (79-58).

While the scoring was led by the troika of Bently Szwed, Skylar Laplante and Rylan Donnelly, it was an offensive breakthrough from Colton Sartor that effectively propelled the northern lads to victory over the Edge in the end.

But as so many people know, team basketball goes far beyond simply those who finish the plays by putting the ball in the basket.

Workhorses Will Alexander and Noah MacIntyre were willing to sacrifice their bodies all season long, putting in the tough work down low while point guard Kane Gideon played much bigger than his size, taking command of the floor when facing pressure and controlling the clock when needed.

At various points, everyone would shine. The tenacity and clutch scoring of Abbas Shah - most notably in games seven and eight - served as a reminder that he was ready for a greater role and increased court time.

And for as much as the heart of any team is so often seen on the court, the soul of the U14 Storm lives and breathes in assistant coach Michelle Flood. "Too shy to lead the team herself, she would argue with me to realize the talent, skill and devotion of these players," said Kinsella.

"Further still, she forced me to hold team leaders accountable for their on-court actions and to demand more from them. That was essential in helping them become better players and better people."

Rounding out the 2023-2024 edition of the Sudbury U14 Storm boys team are Henry Longston, Carter Brunet, Joshua Paradis, Mohnish Thota, Roland Bostrom and Kion Mayores Gepilano.

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