High school team's big win 'a respect thing' for basketball's inventor
Provincial champs from birthplace of James Naismith bring home gold for 1st time since 1987
Basketball inventor James Naismith was born there, and now a team of high schoolers from Almonte, Ont., has solidified the town's claim on the sport.
The senior boys basketball squad from Almonte District High School (ADHS) brought home gold from the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) championship on Wednesday, where they beat Ottawa's Notre Dame High School by a score of 68-65.
It's almost expected that we have good basketball in Almonte .- Kevin Hickey, coach
It's the first time the school has won top place at the Ontario championships since 1987, when some of the current players' dads were on the team.
Coach Kevin Hickey was also on the 1987 team, and said he was proud to watch the hard work put in by his son, Liam, and the rest of the players finally pay off.
"We're a basketball family, and in our eyes it's almost expected that we have good basketball in Almonte," Hickey said. "It's a respect thing for Dr. James Naismith from our standpoint, so that's what we strive for."
Naismith wrote rule book
Naismith was born in Almonte in 1861, and penned the original rules for basketball on Dec. 21, 1891, for the YMCA training school in Springfield, Mass.
Now, a larger-than-life statue of Naismith sits in downtown Almonte, a tribute to the man who invented one of the world's most popular sports.
By all accounts, the high school team's dramatic win on Wednesday was monumental in its own right.
Comeback win 'still hasn't sunk in'
ADHS was down by 12 points with only three minutes left in the game before bouncing back in what Dan Hickey, who coaches alongside his brother, called one of the "best comebacks in OFSAA history."
"The whole town of Almonte was watching, and right now we're kind of like stars," he said. "Everybody is still on cloud nine. [It] still hasn't sunk in."
Player Jonah Lee said his dad, who was also on the last winning team, travelled all the way to London, Ont., to watch the championship game.
"To experience that with him, it was an emotional moment for me and I'll cherish it forever," Lee said.
Students at ADHS were asked to wear school colours orange and black on Thursday to show support for the athletes, coaches and volunteers who worked hard to bring home the gold.