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Sudbury Five coach Logan Stutz, middle, poses with local high school basketball players on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (Sudbury Five)

The National Basketball League’s Sudbury Five is taking a major step in solidifying its presence in Northeastern Ontario, by hosting a first-ever major two-day high school basketball tournament later this month at the Sudbury Community Arena.

The tournament is part of a big Jan. 17 weekend for the Five that will see them at home for two games. The high school portion will be played on the Friday and Saturday.

Four teams from Sudbury will give the tourney a heavy local flavour on the same floor the Five use to play its home professional games. Coach and general manager of the Five, Logan Stutz, says it’s the perfect opportunity to play on an NBA-style court.

“The goal of this tournament is to give each participant an incredibly memorable experience and to provide a high-level tournament in northern Ontario,” said Stutz, whose background in the sport began in the United States and continued through to college in the state of Kansas.

“Let’s give something special to the high schools, and let’s see if they can grab it, run with it and see where it goes,” he added.

College Notre Dame coach Martin Neadeau, who also serves as a referee for some of the Five games in Sudbury, thinks this can only enhance the sport in the north.

“We are very excited to be a part of the Five’s first tournament for high school athletes,” said Nadeau.

“We are extra proud to be participating as Five player Georges Serresse is an alumnus of ours, and we can continue to support him and his teammates,” Nadeau added.

Dwayne Maguire, head coach of the Lockerby Vikings, says to get invited to what he calls a “prestigious tournament” is phenomenal.

“It shows how much basketball is growing here in Sudbury -- the south needs to take notice that the north has very good teams and very good players,” said Maguire.

“This is huge, we’re playing on a professional court, that’s unheard of, and to have it here in Sudbury is even better,” Maguire went on to say.

All three coaches agree: the opportunity to play on a professional-style court is a “dream come true” for high school players, since many attend Five games on a regular basis.

And, Stutz is hopeful a girls’ division can be added to next year’s schedule.

Weekend passes are now on sale at the Sudbury Community Arena or on the Sudbury Five website.