By GREG WHITE
LET'S face it, Coffs Harbour is a basketball powerhouse.
Anybody still doubting that should have been courtside at Sportz Central on the weekend.
The annual Coffs Coast Classic odd age carnival attracted 52 teams to what is an off-season event, and 19 of those teams were provided by the host city.
Instead of being on the beach in the summer sunshine, these kids were still keen to sweat it out against each other.
"We grab every player we can find and put them into a team," organiser Debbie Harwick explained.
"Even though the main competitive season is over there's no shortage of players wanting a game.
"It keeps the interest there and allows us to introduce new age groups."
One of those age brackets is the under 11's, making their debut this year.
"We play the carnival under a pool system and go easy on the pressure to win," Hardwick said.
"It means new learners, new teams and expansion of the game in Coffs Harbour."
To relieve that pressure, organisers mix the age groups and players of differing ability to get an even spread across the competition.
Hardwick said every squad would play five or six games allowing the less experienced more time to get the feel of the game.
"It also helps the smaller centres to reach our standard," she said.
"Gunnedah is one of the visiting clubs and they are really doing well."
Other visitors have ventured from Lismore, Hornsby, Taree, Cessnock and Port Macquarie for the opportunity of mixing it with the locals.
And obviously, hoping ssome of the power of Coffs Harbour basketball will rub off on them.