Busy season ahead for basketball boss

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Mark Douglas is primed for a busy basketball season and he couldn't be happier.

Basketball fans who come along to watch Ashburton College senior teams’ home games this season will have a chance to win $100 if they sink a shot from half-way.

That’s one of the changes ushered in by the new president of Basketball Mid Canterbury and Ashcoll senior boys’ coach Mark “Roasty” Douglas.

He has long believed basketball is the best sport on the planet and he wants to share it with as many people as possible.

Roasty says it’s a sport that offers opportunities to players of all abilities, from those wanting to play for an American college to those wanting to play with their mates; and everyone gets to be part of a global basketball family. Even if you don’t think that Le Bron James is the greatest player of all time.

The sport is gearing up for another season and Roasty will be busy.

Ashburton College will be holding trials soon for its senior boys’ and girls’ teams and his son Brad will be hoping to retain his place in the side.

Roasty says it brings back great memories of his own playing days when his dad Gavin was a coach too.

“Some of my earliest memories are playing intermediate and miniball at the sports hall. I remember the old man coaching and managing the teams I got into over the years. They are some of my best memories, with blokes like Tim Kenny, Wayne Eddington, Rocket Rodgers and Regan Stills.”

Gavin was also president of the basketball association.

Roasty is looking forward to the season ahead, especially the Thompson Trophy and Whelan Trophy games for the Ashcoll sides.

This year will see new half-time entertainment for home games. Roasty’s jewellery shop Robilliards is putting $100 on the line for lucky punters who can nail a shot from half-way; one spectator will be pulled randomly from the crowd in the girls’ and then boys’ games to have a go.

The secondary school sides have been part of a big growth in numbers playing the game at Ashcoll. Last year nine sides took part in competitions from Timaru to Christchurch.

Pip Johnston will coach the girls’ side this year, while Summer Anderson will take the junior girls and Ben Ditmar the junior boys. Andrew Shepherd remains the teacher in charge of basketball at the school.

The senior boys’ side will be aiming for a spot in division one of the Thompson Trophy – the competition has doubled since it started and there are 24 teams this year, split into three divisions. They are a mixture of teams developing talent and teams recruiting talent.

The school sides will also be playing 3×3 basketball.

As president of Basketball Mid Canterbury, Roasty keeps an eye on growing the game outside the school too. Intermediate grade miniball gets under way on March 1, with games at Oxford Street and EA Networks Centre.

“Last year we had 24 teams in this competition but they missed playing because of covid. We are expecting big numbers because they’ll be keen to play.”

To co-incide with the start of this competition, BBMC is bringing down top national coach Lori McDaniel, Wildcats’ coach Mel Downer and top referee Rebecca Moon to run coaching sessions.

A mixed social grade is currently under way, with nine teams playing at Oxford Street, and the men’s senior competition will run again on a Wednesday night starting in April.

Roasty said BBMC ran its youth competitions free last year, in response to covid difficulties.