NBIAA Final 12

Harvey Coach Preparing For Another Trip To Harbour Station

David MacMullin has been around the game of basketball for an awful long time. In fact, there is an old story about the veteran Harvey coach. MacMullin isn’t old school. He’s from the school they tore down to build the old school. Got that?

Thing is, if you do not continue to learn, you will fall behind and MacMullin – who guides his two-time defending New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association A champion Harvey High Lakers – never wants to stop learning. That is why he is working on something different this year with his Lakers, who are off to the NBIAA Final 12 at Harbour Station.

Harvey will play Fredericton Christian Academy Eagles in the A championship game Saturday.

When the A championship unfolds and it’s a tight game, communication can be very tough. A year ago, in dramatic fashion, Harvey defeated arch-rival McAdam High Warriors in a game for the ages. The sound system is cranked to 10.5, the fans are screaming and a coach is trying to draw up a play?

“It was so loud last year with all of those great Harvey and McAdam fans, that my voice could not be heard by the players during a time out,” MacMullin said. “So I’ve been working on sign language to get ready for this year, just in case.”

Although all three classifications – A, AA and AAA – have their legions of fans and supporters, there is something romantic about the A level when it comes to provincial championships at the Final 12. That level usually means rural schools and conjures up images of sport in its purest form.

The community rallies around its team. Cold winter nights are eased knowing there’s a game at the school. Doesn’t matter if it’s Harvey, McAdam, Grand Falls, Grand Manan or Hillsborough or a tiny private school like FCA, sitting quietly on the Capital City’s North Side. Basketball can be the fabric that brings those communities together.

The chance to slide into Saint John to watch your school play on the big stage is an emotional experience for players, coaches, fans and administrators. Make no mistake about it, MacMullin understands the weight it carries in the village.

“We are very well supported by the greater Harvey area, both during the year and at the Final 12,” he said. “The success we have had is a source of pride in Harvey. I suspect basketball has helped Harvey become known across the province. The Village of Harvey is extremely small, less than 300 people. Boundaries are tight. Most do not realise that the high school is actually outside the official village lines. However, no one really focuses on the village limits.”

That is for sure. MacMullin’s learning extends to game preparation as well.

Scott Jones of the Woodstock High Thunder is on record saying he wants his teams to be loose and embrace the moment of a Final 12. That was not always the case during MacMullin’s early foray into championship game day.

“Early in my career, I would try and get players up for the big game, key match-ups and playoffs and that always seemed to work in reverse,” he said. “They became too hyped and didn’t play well. Players already know when they approach an important and the coaching key is to get them to stay calm and help reduce or control the stress.”

For two teams on the Final 12 floor for that one game, plenty more are watching.

“I want my players to have fun, enjoy the experience and be ready to play as well as they always do,” MacMullin said. “I emphasise they are winners already. There are 30 or more other school teams wishing they were in our position. The memories made this year will be shared over the years. We are fortunate to be in the position, but every year it’s always been earned.”

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