Members of the Carbonear Collegiate Sentinels senior boys basketball team gather in a circle to listen to coach Lyndon Pike talk strategy.
©Andrew Robinson/TC Media
Players from the junior and senior boys basketball teams at Carbonear Collegiate gather each Wednesday evening for practice. The younger players start off the evening, with 30 minutes of overlap as the two teams share the gym after the first hour.
The two teams share a few players and also the coach, Lyndon Pike. He’s known some of these boys for quite a few years, having coached some of them at St. Francis School (including his son Dylan) prior to volunteering his time at Carbonear Collegiate. It’s a school he played for as a youth in his Grade 12 year following the closure of St. Paul’s in Harbour Grace in the early 1990s.
“When I came back to the area and started realizing where the game had gone … it seemed like there was still a lot of focus on the girls basketball, and they’ve been quite successful here,” he told The Compass during a practice last week. “But on the boys side of it, it had really fallen by the wayside. They weren’t very competitive going to tournaments.”
With this in mind, Pike decided to get involved in coaching, and after working with some of these players for years and teaching the fundamentals of basketball, he feels the boys teams are beginning to earn the respect of their peers.
At the Keith Keating Memorial Tournament earlier this year in St. John’s, Carbonear Collegiate advanced to the quarter-finals.
“We’re walking into gyms now and other schools, and they know who we are now,” he said.
But it’s not all about what they do on the court either.
“For me, the biggest accomplishment thus far is just the way they’ve learned to respect each other, because I have a group of kids here spanning from Grade 9 to 12, and the way they respect each other in here and outside of here — they’ve managed to build a nice little group. If there’s a junior game, the senior kids are all here watching it and cheering them on. If there’s a senior game, it’s vice versa.”
Logan Sparkes, a 16-year-old point guard from Carbonear who was named a tournament all star at the Keith Keating event, said there’s always a good vibe in the locker room and that the players get along.
“There’s an occasional argument, but it gets solved eventually,” he said while taking a quick break from practice.
Colin Rossiter believes there’s a lot of chemistry on the team that’s been built over time.
The boys get to take in a lot of basketball as members of the teams. Sometimes they’ll gather at Pike’s house to watch some video from a recent game or a bit of NBA action if a good matchup is on the television. The coach is also heavily involved in the local recreational men’s league, where a few of the boys help out. Five players even dress for games in the four-team league.
When the school year finishes, Pike continues to hold weekly practices at the school.
“We pretty much had to do that in order to be somewhat competitive, because some of these boys are a little bit late getting in the game, and we’re going up against teams where some kids have been playing since Grade 3 or 4. In St. John’s, the opportunities are there for them to be able to play at that age.”
The senior players run set plays on both offence and defence and employ different systems. For the players who’ve been at it for a few years with the coach, there’s a strong comfort level.
“Everything we do or everything we’ve done the last three years is just a progression of that system,” he explained. “So by the time they reach Grade 12, well then, it’s like the pinnacle of everything they can learn about that specific system.”
Cody Vaters, a 17-year-old centre from Salmon Cove, likes his coach a lot.
“You couldn’t get better than Lyndon. Lyndon’s the best.”
Logan has learned about the importance of team effort and how you can’t win games alone, while Colin, a 15-year-old shooting guard from Carbonear, appreciates strengthening his defensive capabilities with the Sentinels.
When asked about their goals for the rest of the year, Cody, Colin and Logan all point to their desire to win a banner to hang in the gymnasium. It’s something they’ve seen the school’s girls team do plenty of times over the last few years under the guidance of their coach, teacher Ed Jarvis.
The team was taking part in a tournament last week in Avondale, though its first game against archrivals Ascension Collegiate of Bay Roberts took place Thursday night in Carbonear. The Sentinels won, marking the first time in quite a while that the senior boys team beat Ascension. They went on to reach the championship game before losing to their opponent.