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Basketball Royals make jump to Division 1

Christian Vitug of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals splits the host Northumberland Nighthawks’ defense during tournament action last month in Alma, Pictou County. Kevin Adshade/THE NEWS
Christian Vitug of the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals splits the host Northumberland Nighthawks’ defense during tournament action last month in Alma, Pictou County. Kevin Adshade/THE NEWS - Corey LeBlanc

Program to host tournament Dec. 13, 14

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

The Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals boys’ basketball program has made the jump to the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation (NSSAF) Division 1 classification.    

After winning five Division 2 crowns in six years – a streak only interrupted when the 2016-17 season was wiped out by the provincial teachers’ work-to-rule job action – head coach Jason Dayman said the program was “ready to move up.”    

The former St. F.X. X-Men forward, who has led the Royals to the most-recent two championships, noted last season they outscored their opponents by 15-to-20 points during provincials.    

“How do you get better? You play better teams,” Dayman said, in touching on reasons for the move.    

The Royals have started this campaign with a 7-0 mark, including a 55-point victory over the Breton Education Centre Bears of New Waterford, the team they bested in last season’s provincial championship game.    

“Get better every time on the court,” Dayman said is this season’s mantra for the Royals.    

He added it is “about performing for 40 minutes each game.”    

“We have a young team, but we are still talented,” Dayman noted.    

Only one player graduated from the 2019 championship squad.    

Along with a handful of newcomers to the roster, the program has added assistant Denton Anthony – an assistant with the St. F.X. X-Men and long-time minor basketball coach – who Dayman described as a “huge asset.”    

Grade 9 Jordan Dayman joins his older brothers, Nicholas and Nathan, on the roster, while James Guro has come on board as a Grade 10 guard.    

Grade 11 Tyler Pictou, who missed last season after knee surgery, is back.    

The remaining team members are Anthony Sears, Christian Vitug, Czai Pangan, Ben Anthony, Liam Walker, Jordan Phee and Cole MacDonald.     

Phee averaged 27 points per game in last season’s Division 2 provincial tournament, while the Dayman brothers – Nicholas and Nathan – filled the stat sheet, a constant threat to score a double-double in points and rebounds.    

Sears and MacDonald will also be important contributors to a balanced attack.    

When asked about key returnees, the head coach referred to an early-season 20-point victory over the North Nova Gryphons – noting six players scored in double figures.    

“There are no individuals – we are really focussed on that; we are a team,” he said.    

“It doesn’t matter who scores; it is about concentrating on fundamentals.”    

Those ‘fundamentals’ include setting screens and boxing out.    

“We are also playing team defense, which is essential,” Dayman added.    

Whether on offense or defense, he noted, the key to success is communication.    

“We just want to work together and get better and better each game,” Dayman noted.    

The Royals’ regular season will include Northumberland region match-ups with familiar foes – the Gryphons, Northumberland Nighthawks and CEC Cougars.    

A busy season will also include January visits to the Horton Griffins and Avonview Avalanche for tournament action.    

The program will host two home court tournaments at the Regional gym, with the first scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14.    

The second one will take place in February.    

“That is a great time of year,” Dayman said of the latter tournament, noting its timing between exams and the regional playoffs.    

Although it is early in the season, he said he is pleased with how the players have been “buying in and working well together.”    

“We are off to a good start, but we are not satisfied. I am proud of how we have come together as a team,” Dayman added.    

“We are excited and expect to have a strong season.”    

Calling the move to Division 1 as “in the best interest of the program,” Dayman said the Royals believe they can medal at provincials in March.

THE ROSTER

Anthony Sears

Christian Vitug

Czai Pangan

James Guro

Nicholas Dayman  

Ben Anthony

Nathan Dayman

Liam Walker

Jordan Phee

Jordan Dayman

Cole MacDonald

Tyler Pictou

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

POOL A

Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals

Avonview Avalanche

Millwood Knights

POOL B

Hants North Flames

Northumberland Nighthawks

North Nova Gryphons

Fri., Dec. 13:

2 p.m. Royals vs. Knights

4 p.m. Flames vs. Nighthawks

6 p.m. Royals vs. Avalanche

8 p.m. Gryphons vs. Flames

Sat., Dec. 14:

9 a.m. Knights vs. Avalanche

11 a.m. Gryphons vs. Nighthawks

1 p.m. 3rd Pool A vs. 3rd Pool B

3 p.m. 2nd Pool A vs. 2nd Pool B

5 p.m. 1st Pool A vs. 1st Pool B

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