For most high school basketball players in Yorkton, the ‘York City Classic’, a tournament hosted by both the YRHS Raiders and SHHS Saints, is just another chance to play some hoops.
For the orange-clad trio of David Balysky, Braden Oystrick and Tyrell Ulmer, however, it’s one last chance to play in front of family and friends.
That’s because the three grade 12 student-athletes from the YRHS will be stepping onto their home court for the final time in their high school careers sometime during the weekend tournament. “This is the last York City Classic that we’ll ever play in and the last time we’ll play at home in front of everyone,” said Raiders grade 12 star Braden Oytrick. “So yeah, it’s great to have everyone come out and watch because it’ll give us energy for our games.”
Oystrick’s fellow grade 12 teammate Tyrell Ulmer agreed with him, saying: “It’s always great to have them (family and friends) out.
“It builds up our confidence knowing we’re playing in front of everyone for the last time and it’s a chance to showcase our talents to people who haven’t been able to watch us much this season.”
But are the three grade 12 players actually prepared for both the level of competition that awaits them at their home tournament, as well as the added pressure of playing in front of loved ones? Raiders head coach Jason Payne believes so. “These guys are ready,” said Payne in an interview during a Friday evening practice. “Usually around this time of the year it’s where the grade 12’s really start to step up because they get it. They understand that they’ve got an X number of games and an X number of practices left and that these games in this tournament will be their last games in this gym.”
And while Payne suggests that the grade 12’s are ready for the tournament because of the sudden realization that this is it for them, Ulmer, meanwhile, feels that they are ready in large part due to the work that his coach has put forth. “Coach Payne has done a wonderful job so far with us in getting us prepared for this tournament,” said the tenacious Ulmer, continuing, “He’s helped make us better each practice and we look forward to showing everyone what we can do in the York City Classic.”
There is one team in particular that the three Raiders seniors hope to show what they can do against. That team? None other than their tournament co-host and long-time rivals the Sacred Heart Saints. “The last time we went up against Sacred Heart they beat us. We beat them the first time so we’ve definitely have a score to settle,” said Oystrick. “Hopefully we’ll come out with a better record than them in this tournament because we are the bigger school so it’s kind of expected.”
Ulmer echoed Oystrick’s comments, but added one last thing. “I’m going to play with a little chip on my shoulder if we play them for sure.”