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Island Basketball – Great Lakes Now – 1011 – Segment 1

Island Basketball – Great Lakes Now – 1011 –  Segment 1

There are more
than 30,000 islands in the Great Lakes. Of course, not all
of them are inhabited but some are home enough
year-round residents to have high schools and
high school basketball teams. So who’s your crosstown rival
when you live on an island? It could be another island
team hundreds of miles away. (upbeat music) – [Nick] They’re
the familiar sounds of high school basketball. (audience cheering) But in just a few hours, this gym will hold an event
you’re probably never heard of the Great Lakes Islands
Basketball Tournament. – The Great Lakes Island
Basketball Tournament is unique because, you know, it’s just the island,
small island schools, and it’s like the
battle of the best of who’s the best
of the Great Lakes. – [Nick] Facing off are
boys and girls teams from four island high schools
representing three states. There’s the Put-in-Bay Panthers from Ohio’s South Bass Island, the Washington Island Bucks
hailing from Wisconsin, and representing Michigan
the Mackinac Island Lakers, and the Beaver Island Islanders. – It’s fun, mainly
because Beaver Island is our rival and we’ve
always been rivals, we have a lot of friends there. And then Put-in-Bay
in Washington Island, we just have friends
there and it’s kind of fun when they come up here. – [Nick] This years tournament,
held on Mackinac Island, promises stiff
competition on the court. But for the teams, just getting there is a
challenge all its own. (upbeat music) For the Put-in-Bay
Panthers the trip north from Lake Erie began
the day before. – Well, first we took
the ferry from Put-in-Bay over to Catawba island. Then from there we
drove all the way up through Michigan
across the bridge. We were in the car
for nine or 10 hours plus a couple of stops for food. And now we’re on a ferry on our way to
Mackinaw from there. – [Coach] All right Put-in-Bay, head to the street,
take a right. – [Nick] With no cars
allowed on the island and only two horse drawn
carriages in service, the Panthers decide
to make the icy walk from the dock right
to the tournament. (upbeat music) A couple of miles to the north, atop the island’s iconic bluff, teams from Beaver
Island arrive by plane. – We took off on the
plane, a gorgeous flight. We got to fly over
the Mackinac Bridge, which is always a
great thing to see. – [Nick] When the students horse drawn ride
doesn’t show up, they too have to make the
snowy trek to the tournament. Finally, after more than
eight hours of driving and a hotel stay, the Washington Island Bucks
reach Mackinac Island. For Junior Guard Max Johnson, on his first trip to Mackinac the island is a sight to behold. – It looks like
“The Wizard of Oz” or something like that,
one of those fantasy towns, ’cause you see all the buildings right up next to each other, different colors
everywhere, too. And then they’ve got that
massive Christmas tree in the middle of the road. Christmas lights everywhere. So it’s really
beautiful around here. – [Nick] Even the
hometown Mackinac Lakers have an unusual commute
to the tournament. – As you can see outside,
there is a lot of snow and not as many people. We drive snowmobiles
to and from school and anywhere else
we’d like to go. (whistle blowing) – [Nick] Now in
it’s second year, the two day
round-robin tournament gives these small island
teams an opportunity to play against schools
of similar size. – It’s really awesome
because we’re playing against other teams
who are just like us. Usually when we’re playing
other teams in Wisconsin, all the teams are like they
only have like eight players let’s run it on ’em,
let’s run it on ’em and let’s get ’em
tired out right away. – [Nick] All the teams competing have fewer than 100
students enrolled in their entire school,
kindergarten through 12th grade. – The whole freshman class,
there are seven students. I’m the only girl and
there are six guys. They’re a little crazy and
wild, but they’re like brothers. – [Nick] That often means
to fill a basketball team, junior high schoolers
are moved up to varsity or teams might even play
with a co-ed roster. – Our boys team, unfortunately, due to a player not comin%g out, we only four boys on
the high school team. And the girls play their game and then come play an extra
quarter with the boys. Our team normally plays
either a Christian school varsity schools, which
are small in enrollment or public schools,
freshman teams. It’s nice to compete
against schools that are kind of
playing who they have, not who they want to have. And also too the kids
have the camaraderie and they’ve shared experiences which makes this game special. – [Nick] The tournament
brings sharp shooting from behind the arc, tough
play from the low post, and heart pounding nail biters. (buzzer sounding) While friendly rivalries
play out on the court, off the court players
from different schools bond over some of
the unique challenges of island life as a teenager. – It’s a bad thing
about this island is that if you’re a teenager, you can’t like anyone here because that just is
really gonna go bad for you because if you
date and break up, you’re gonna have to
survive with each other for years to come. And then, like, you
can’t date anyone off the island because
you’ll never see them. – I think it’s just fun, like to meet new people. My school is very
quiet, very small so talking to other
people who share like same situation as
you is a lot of fun. – I think we can relate
with each other a lot just because we
live on an island and know how hard it is to travel and do other
things like that. – [Nick] Traveling to
and from the islands for sporting events
also poses a challenge for each of the four
school districts. – All of our travel
expenses goes pretty much to the sports teams. It’s, you know, something
that we have to budget for every year because
last year for instance, we went to Beaver Island
twice in one season, we went for
basketball and soccer. So it adds up when you’re
sending 20 to 30 kids to a different island
on a plane, it adds up. – [Nick] But for the schools, sports boosters, and parents, the experience is
worth paying for. (crowd cheering) – Sports are very
important at our school and it’s kind of if
you don’t play sports, then you’re gonna be bored. All the community comes to
every single basketball game and our school is
very supportive of
our sports programs. – I’ve known most of these
kids when they were born. So you get very
attached to all of them and you want them to do well
and you want them to succeed. (upbeat music) – [Nick] When the
final buzzer sound, the Beaver Island boys
and the Put-in-Bay girls both repeat as
tournament champions. – We were really hyped
because we won it last year, we won all three games, which
is how you win the tournament. We were like, yeah,
yeah, let’s go! And so we were really
excited about doing that. – It was a long trek
and we made it worth it. It goes in our
trophy case at school and we get to hold it and
touch it as much as we want. – [Nick] For the
teams that fell short, next year’s tournament means
a trip to a different island and another shot at the
Great Lakes Islands title. – Hey, I mean, our tournament
next year is in Put-in-Bay and if they beat us
on our home turf, we’re gonna beat them
on their home turf. (upbeat music)

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