Another chapter in the age old story of youth versus experience is set to be written on October 7 at Gravenhurst High School.
The Saturday of the Thanksgiving weekend, the 1993 GHS senior boys’ basketball team is making an appearance at their alma mater 25 years after they became the OFSAA “A” basketball champions – a feat that has not been repeated by any team in any sport at GHS since.
The event includes a game where the seasoned veterans from 1993 will take on the young up and comers from the current GHS boys’ basketball team. There will also be a 50/50 draw to raise money for the GHS Rotary Bursary Fund, as well as a three-point and bump contest at the half for spectators to participate in. While the winner of the of the three-point competition gets the cash prize, the runners up go home with free pita coupons courtesy of the Pita Pit.
Admission is by food bank donation, and the doors open at 9:30 AM, with tipoff set for 10 AM.
The former champs from 1993 are excited to get back on the court as a unit and see if that they still got the spark that helped elevate them to the Ontario championship.
“Not only are we looking forward to getting together to play again,” says former player Michael Janke, “but we’re all scattered around North America and are very much looking forward to coming back to Gravenhurst to hopefully raise some food for the local food bank and some funds for the GHS Rotary Bursary Fund through the 50/50 sales.”
Janke remembers the run of 1993 and the team vividly, and with no small amount of affection.
“Many of us were hard workers. We began to spend time outside of our regular practices in the gym and in the weight room,” says Janke. “Our coaches at the time Doug Ball, Gerry Bray and Brent Reid really pushed us hard because they knew how good we could be.”
There are typically three age groups at any given high school in Ontario – Midget (Grade 9), Junior (Grades 10 and 11), and Senior (Grades 12 and OAC). However, due to the fact that GHS only had about 550 students in 1993, they had no Junior team.
“Once players had played Midget in Grade 9 they would move on to play Senior ball,” recalls Janke. “That meant many 14 year olds on a team playing against 17 and 18 year olds…it was a tough go.”
The Senior team had talent, Janke says, and generally played well in the Muskoka/Parry Sound loop and even the larger Georgian Bay loop but when they went away to tournaments the team would struggle.
“We spent two years growing as a team and playing against older kids,” says Janke. “By the time we got to grade 12 we’d gotten pretty good.”
Janke says the coaching staff were putting in all kinds of extra hours and pushing the team to their limit.
“They instituted a 12.5 minute run we had to do twice a week. We had to run about 3 km in that time and those that couldn’t do it couldn’t play until they could run the distance in the allotted amount of time,” says Janke. “ We all hated it at first…many of us struggled. In hindsight though, we never would have had the success we had without it. After doing it for a bit we started running other teams out of the gym. In tight games we’d pull away in the 4th quarter and win by 15.”
Despite stiff competition from much bigger teams, the provincially ranked #3 team from GHS were able to pull of the provincial championship victory.
“I will say though we had much experience that year having played several tournaments in the Toronto area where there were teams that were extremely athletic…teams would warm-up and almost every guy could dunk,” says Janke. “ We had just a couple guys and we couldn’t do anything fancy. But we worked hard and were fundamentally sound.”
Now the 1993 squad is ready to hit the GHS court again and see if they still have that same magic 25 years later.