Commitment breeds excellence at Lauriston

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A year after the Victor Lauriston senior boys’ basketball team was rife with discipline problems, the 2015 version took the Chatham title. Front row, from left, Austin Cunningham, Luca Iaconetti, Drey Ronda, Tim Nguyen, Logan Lovell and Marcus Hutchings. Back row, co-coach Carlos Orlando, Jaydon Knight, Corey Hicks, Trey Postma, Anthony McKee, Julian Ferrell, Alex Ladd-Guy and coach Maarty Graham.

Some say you have to hit rock bottom before climbing to the top, and that’s what happened for the Victor Lauriston senior boys’ basketball team.

A year after the coach was so disgusted with his players that he briefly quit the team, the boys rallied and took the city title. It was the first time in more than 15 years the school had such bragging rights.

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But rock bottom arrived last year, according to coach Maarty Graham. He said poor attitude, indifference and lousy discipline from the players led him to walk away.

“Last year was a massive struggle,” said Graham, who has coached the senior boys for the past seven years. “At one point, I quit the team. I was giving up 20 hours of my time a week. I want to develop mature young men and develop basketball players, and players who show respect.”

It wasn’t until Trey Postma and Julian Ferrell, two Grade 7s on the team at the time, approached Graham and asked him to return that he relented.

Those boys, now in Grade 8 were leaders on this year’s team.

The turnaround in terms of attitude this year is what drove the team to the championship.

Logan Lovell said he and his teammates put in a lot of work this time around, estimating the 12 players each invested more than 200 hours of practice and game time.

Co-coach Carlos Orlando said the commitment from the kids was impressive.

“We practised five days a week and had full representation,” he said. “They came with a work ethic.”

Graham said the strong turnout day in and day out paid off.

“It cultivated a great team effort. I was confident in putting anyone on the floor,” he said. “This season, I don’t think we had a bad game.”

They lost just once in regular season play, to Gregory Drive Public School, a team Postma said was the favourite to win the city title at the start of the season.

But Lauriston lost a squeaker, and the team knew it could beat Gregory Drive.

“We lost by two points and gained confidence with that,” Postma said.

The two squads ultimately squared off for the crown, with Lauriston taking the title, in front of a very strong crowd.

“I think we set a record for most staff members attending a game,” Lovell said, as 34 of 44 staff at the school were on hand to loudly witness the victory.

Postma said even a few former staff members showed up to give support.

The team earned the support through its hard work, and Graham is optimistic the work ethic will continue through next season, considering he is only losing a few players to graduation.

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