Southridge set to host national hoops event

Some of the top young basketball players from across the country will be arriving in South Surrey this week, as Southridge School gets set to host the 2014 U13 Canadian Accredited Independent Schools Boys Basketball Tournament.

The event runs Thursday to Saturday – at both Southridge and the Cloverdale Recreation Centre – and will feature the Southridge Storm’s Grade 6/7 boys hoops team, as well as 15 more from across Canada.

The CAIS tourney has been around since 1993 – Southridge hosted the event in 2007 – and is one of the biggest U13 sports events among independent schools.

“It’s a real unique event for us, and it’s a big deal for the kids,” said Southridge athletic director James Porpaczy, who along with Kirby Gallant, is coaching the school’s Grade 7 team as well as helping organize the event.

“This is kind of the first year, in Grade 7, where there are tryouts for the teams, and cuts, and things like that. It’s a big learning experience for them, and this tournament is the same kind of thing.”

Last year’s tournament was held in Toronto, and though the Storm players will host, rather than travel, this year, Gallant said they’re all looking forward to it.

“It’s the pinnacle of the year for these boys,” he said.

Though most players are only in their first few years of organized basketball, every match in the CAIS tournament will have a “big game” feel. The stands will be packed with students, families and fans, and the games will feature play-by-play commentary and video of each contest will be live-streamed on the event’s official website.

The players from visiting schools will also be billeted with the families of local players. Many of the teams will stay with Southridge families, while a few others will be billeted with members of Vancouver’s St. George’s Saints, who are also in the tournament.

The Saints, who won the 2013 event, will again be considered one of the favourites to win, Porpaczy said. St. George’s has won the tourney 12 times since ’93. Toronto-based Upper Canada College is another top team, having won two of the last three events.

With a Grade 7 class of just 22 students – compared to more than 100 at a school like St. George’s – Porpaczy said Southridge, as a smaller school, will be underdogs in some matchups this week. That said, he didn’t rule out an upset.

“We have a lot of Grade 6s this year – about half the team – so it’s a learning experience,” he said.

“But we’re capable of beating anybody, and at this level, upsets can happen.”

For a full schedule of games, plus other  information and links to the live video streams and more, click here.

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