Hoops Team Rebounds From Tragedy To Win Title

A year ago, seven basketball players from Bathurst High School in New Brunswick, Canada, were killed in a van accident on their way back from a road game. So the school certainly could have been excused for maybe setting the basketball program aside for a year or two while the small community healed from the tragedy.

Bathurst New Brunswick basketball team

But that wasn’t going to happen. Though the school did initially disband its basketball program, a new group came together in the fall to carry on the legacy of their schoolmates. And now, stunningly, they’re New Brunswick provincial champions. Bradd Arsenau, who survived the crash and is the only returning player from last year’s team, scored 25 points in the 82-50 win over Campobello. Arsenau wore the number 7 in honor of one of his fallen teammates and was named the game’s MVP.

CTV has the story of the town of 13,000 that has overcome a terrible situation:

The crash devastated the small northern N.B. town and touched the hearts of many around the globe.

“It really has been joyful to watch and experience this,” John McLaughlin, superintendent of the Bathurst School District, told CTV Newsnet.

“They lost some pretty good friends and I’m sure they were playing for them.”

One player summed it up quite succinctly:

“We did the impossible pretty much,” Bathurst basketball player Alex Robichaud told CTV Atlantic. 

Arsenau couldn’t bring himself to speak to the media afterward, but his mother talked about what the game meant to him:

Arseneau, who was named the game’s MVP, declined to be interviewed after the game.

But his mother, Peggy O’Neil-Arseneau told The Canadian Press, “I’ve never seen him play any better.”

“The joy . . . and the love in this room is just overwhelming,” she told CTV Atlantic during the game.

Bathurst was allowed to drop from class AAA to AA in order to better compete, but that doesn’t take away from the remarkable achievement. Of the team’s eight players, only two had any sort of varsity experience.

On top of all of this, head coach Alan Doucet collapsed during practice earlier in the week and had to miss the final game while undergoing medical tests.

After a long, tough year, Bathurst’s kids finally got a chance to celebrate:

After winning, Bathurst players stayed on the court for a long time, taking in every moment of their unlikely victory. They cut down both nets before retiring to the locker room.

“It’s a huge deal, coming back from that accident,” said forward Brad States. “Obviously, it’s huge.”