Seven Fort McMurray athletes and a local coach helped an undefeated North East Zone win gold in U14 boys basketball at the 2023 Alberta Summer Games in Okotoks and Black Diamond.
Fort McMurray’s contribution included Tiago Lance, Ethan Matutu, Elliott Murphy, Emmanuel Okei, Luv Patel, Shema Rwangombwa and Ivan Saenz. All of the Fort McMurray athletes are part of the Northern Trailblazers Basketball program. Fort McMurray’s Joshua Owen coached the team.
“It was a great experience, competing against other teams, since they were all my age, and I got to see how we ranked against all of the competition in Alberta,” said Matutu. “It was also fun to see other players from other zones and play with friends in the same spot that I do.”
The North East Zone defeated the Sunny South team with a close 75-72 victory. Matutu said this was a tough game, especially since North East Zone went down 19 in the third quarter.
“It was tough to fight back and eventually won the game by three points,” he said.
This was followed by a 70-47 victory over Black Gold and an 80-71 win against Parkland. In the semi-finals, the North East Zone beat Calgary 76-68. They once again faced Sunny South for the championship game and won 88-76.
“The most challenging thing about the tournament was adjusting to playing with new teammates and only having a few practices,” said Lance. “The thing that I liked the most at the tournament was being around all the other kids in the school and getting a chance to meet them. They were fun tough games to play and meeting the other teams was super fun.”
Lance and Matutu plan to continue developing as athletes. Both athletes are students at Holy Trinity High School and have been recognized for their sportsmanship.
Matutu has competed in basketball tournaments in Edmonton, Calgary and Grande Prairie. The summer games are the biggest he has competed in so far. Matutu plays football and soccer for fun with his friends, and is a member of Holy Trinity’s varsity basketball team. He hopes to qualify for the U15 team and play other provinces at the Canada Basketball Nationals in August 2024.
Lance also plays volleyball, soccer, badminton and competes in track and field events. He won junior athlete of the year at his school, and hopes to be an athlete at a post-secondary level.
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Correction: This story originally listed Joshua Owen as an athlete. He is the coach. Fort McMurray Today apologizes for the error.