By Dwayne Tingley
The Sudbury Five continue to change the sports landscape in Northern Ontario.
The National Basketball League of Canada franchise will host a senior boys' high school basketball tournament Jan. 17-18 at the Sudbury Arena.
"The Five have shown that minds have changed and this is not just about hockey," said Camron Martin, the second-year team's game day events and marketing co-ordinator.
"There are a lot of basketball fans in Sudbury and we're getting more every day," he said. "We are showing that basketball can do very well in an area that has been thought of as just as hockey area. Part of it is promoting the game of basketball and showing how exciting it can be."
The tournament, which will feature eight elite high school teams from across Northern Ontario, including four from the Sudbury area, will be instrumental in raising the profile of basketball in the region.
"We have a very good audience for basketball and it continues to grow," Martin said. "We will continue to present a professional product and be active in our community. From the start, the Five have been active in community events and shown that we want to create positive partnerships."
College Notre-Dame, Lockerby, Lasalle and LeEllen are the Sudbury area schools that will compete in the two-day tournament.
Algonquin, Timmins, White Pines and O'Gorman will also be sending teams.
Five head coach Logan Stutz said the goal of the tournament "is to give each participant an incredibly memorable experience and to provide a high-level tournament in Northern Ontario.
"These players will have the opportunity to play on an NBA-style court right here in the north," Stutz added.
Martin said the Five will be involved in many aspects of the tournament, including appearances by many of the players. The tournament teams will be recognized at the Five's game on Jan. 17 against the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans. A skills competition will be held during the half-time show.
"We have a history of sending our players into schools and other community organizations," Martin noted. "They really enjoy the interaction with the community. Making new fans and creating excitement about basketball is things that the players like to be part of in our community."
Martin hopes the tournament will be played every year and will also include a girls' division in the future.