New league a slam dunk

Nicholas Mercer
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Men's basketball experiencing a revival in Harbour Grace

Shane Lambert is president of the newly rejuvenated CBN Men's Basketball League.

It's 7 p.m. on a Thursday night and the sounds of squeaking sneakers and pounding basketballs can be heard coming from the gymnasium at St. Francis School in Harbour Grace.

But, it's not the sounds of students preparing for a school dance or a sports team sneaking in an extra practice.

It's the newly-revived Conception Bay North men's basketball league, back after being dormant for more than a decade.

Whispers of a league return started being heard in the spring of last year, when a group of players who had been scrimmaging recreationally on Tuesday and Thursday nights started kicking around the idea of a summer league.

While that did not happen, the idea stayed in the back of the minds of those players until they started scrimmaging again in early September.

An executive was selected - Barry Hicks (vice-president), Trevor Smith (treasurer), Dave Penney (secretary), Bob White (NLBA representative) and Shane Lambert (president) - and they started reaching into the CBN sporting community in order to gauge the interest level ... and there was.

The executive attracted players from Bay Roberts to Carbonear looking for a semi-competitive game of ball. Some had played previously in the old men's league, while others either played high school ball or saw action in one of the various men's leagues operating in St. John's.

As it stands, the league is comprised of three teams and about 40 athletes.

"We are certainly satisfied (with the response), but we hope that this is just the beginning," said Lambert. "I think much of the impetus came from the apparent interest in and around the Carbonear/Harbour Grace area, in playing structured, serious games as opposed to the scrimmaging we had been doing up to that point."

A team from the area played provincially in division III last year, capturing the championship.

Both factored heavily into the decision to try and revive the league.

"I think that was when we realized that we had the interest and some pretty good talent in the community," added Lambert. "I believe that win kind of cemented our resolve to get the league up and running again."

Possible expansion

There were talks of a fourth team competing in the league, though it fell through due to a lack of player commitment.

There are already talks to have the league expand next year.

"I would certainly like to see it go on, as I am sure the other members of the league would like to as well," said Lambert. "There are many of us who live in the area and have no plans to leave anytime soon.

"With that, I can say confidently that success this year will facilitate the continuance of the league in years to come."

As it stands, the executive is pleased with the three-team league, but are still on the lookout for other talent should they want a competitive game.

"Even if we can't accommodate them this year, next year we will be looking at expanding," he said.

Men's basketball is back in CBN, and it could be here for awhile.

Organizations: Francis School

Geographic location: Harbour Grace, Carbonear, Conception Bay Bay Roberts St. John's

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