Three Island teams look to make dents in their respective national basketball championships beginning Monday.
P.E.I.’s under-15 and under-17 boys teams play at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg while the under-15 girls play at Humber College in Toronto.
“It will be a tough test but a fabulous experience for these girls,” said Carly Clarke, head coach of the P.E.I. under-15 girls squad. “Competing against the best players in the country provides a great gauge for how individuals stand and what they have to work on.”
P.E.I., which is seeded 10th in the tournament, faces Manitoba, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador in the round robin.
Clarke guided Nova Scotia to a bronze medal at the nationals two summers ago.
In the under-15 divisions, the top four teams are seeded into one pool.
The remaining teams play each other with the chance to move into the top six.
The under-17 division has three pools, with P.E.I. drawing Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Alberta.
The P.E.I. squad Nova Scotia in its opening game.
“We have a tough pool, but our goal all summer is to finish in the top eight,” said P.E.I. head coach Josh Witty. “We head into the tournament ranked 10th, so moving up two spots will be a great accomplishment.
“We have to play team first basketball and focus on getting good shots each possession and limiting turnovers. If we can play consistently then we will have a shot at winning in the fourth quarter which is all we can ask.”
The P.E.I. under-15 boys play Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and host Manitoba in the round robin.
Several Island team members are age-eligible for the 2013 Canada Games, and this will be the first chance for the team to play at the national level.
“Our team has shown a lot of improvement the last month, and we are playing our best basketball of the summer,” said P.E.I. head coach Trent Whitty. “Each individual has improved significantly and we have played better as a team.
“Going to Winnipeg, we will need all 12 players to be ready to play their best and be able to play together.”