Peter Blackman is not a tall man, but Jeppe’s captain is very effective on the basketball court and more than a handful for his opponents.
“Everyone seems to think that basketball players need to be very tall, but I think the smaller guys actually have an advantage because we are quick and agile and get in the way of the big ones,” he said.
What he didn’t mention was the exceptional work rate that he and one or two of his smaller team mates display and it is that attitude that has helped Jeppe have a very good season so far.
The inter-school matches have been disrupted by the rain, but Jeppe has come second in two major tournaments this season. They were runners-up to the hosts at the Bishop Bavin tournament at the start of the season and then, this past weekend they won the sliver medals at the St David’s tournament, losing the St Benedict’s in the final.
“We had a bit of a stumble, losing to Sacred Heart in our first game,” Peter said, “but we sat down and had a long hard talk after that game and agreed to step up and perform in the other matches. The boys did that, and I was very proud of them.”
They then won their next three games and their quarter and semi-finals, which put them in the final against St Benedict’s. “They are a good team, but I think we gave them a very good go and lost by 11 in the end, which is quite close in basketball,” he said. “We are a very young team – five grade 11s, six grade 10s and one grade 9, which is good for the future of the game at the school.”
And basketball is growing everywhere, including at Jeppe. “We have had an increase in the number of players and teams from last year and there is an excitement in the club. It’s a fun game to play and the basketball lifestyle appeals to boys, I think.”
Jeppe’s coach, Andile was once regarded as the finest left-handed shooter in the country and he has done a lot to grow the sport at the school. “He has taught us to play structured basketball, not a lot of school teams do that and it has definitely given us an edge,” Peter said.
The coach and the captain are clearly deep thinkers on the game, they are leading a young and talented group of players. Basketball is on the rise at Jeppe. And they meet Bennies again this weekend, determined to make amends for that loss in the final.