Mustang never gave up on playing

Quitting is not in Levan King Cranston’s vocabulary.

Princess Margaret Mustangs forward Levan King Cranston constantly works to improve his game to help himself and his team.

Princess Margaret Mustangs forward Levan King Cranston constantly works to improve his game to help himself and his team.

Quitting is not in Levan King Cranston’s vocabulary.

The senior forward with the Princess Margaret Mustangs senior boys basketball team is an example of what can be achieved by not giving up.

After moving to Kaleden from Coquitlam in Grade 9, Cranston was cut by Mustangs junior coach Dan Van Os.

“I really felt like I wanted to overcome getting cut. It was terrible,” said Cranston. “Not the greatest feeling at all. I knew I could prove to the junior coach that I was good enough to play. I just wanted to play basketball.”

Van Os said at that time in Cranston’s development, he was not physically strong enough nor did he possess the skills to make the junior team.

Instead of keeping his head down and not playing anymore, Cranston practised all the time and attended camps. When a basketball court in Kaleden opened near his home, that became his second hangout. The next year he made the team but was given limited minutes.

“It was still great,” said Cranston of that Grade 10 season. “I just kept working harder and harder. Grade 11 was better. Grade 12 is great.”

His final season of basketball has put him on cloud nine as a starter. Cranston, who loves Miami Heat guard Eddie House because “he’s just a sick basketball player,” feels good about his game and he’s having fun, especially on the road. Cranston loves road trips and the laughs that come with it. His positive demeanor is something that is liked by his coaches and teammates.

“He’s always positive,” said Mustangs point guard Sagar Sahota. “He keeps the team atmosphere light.”

Sahota offers a perspective on how his teammate can be. The Mustangs enjoyed a 67-22 victory against the George Elliott Coyotes on Jan. 31. With their roster already short and an injured player watching from the sidelines, it was nearly impossible for the Coyotes to gain any momentum.

“If Levan was on George Elliott, he would be the one cracking jokes, still having fun,” said Sahota. “That’s what basketball is. He helps me have fun. He always has his heart in the right place.”

Cranston’s current coach, Russ Reid, brought up an incident of Cranston being a good citizen. A new student had arrived at the school that day and Cranston was the first one in the gym to approach him and shake his hand.

“He has a big heart on and off the court,” said Reid.

What also helps Cranston stand out is an internal drive he possesses, which Reid said few others have.

“I think it’s pretty amazing to see a kid nowadays who get cut to put his own time into practise to meet a goal he wants,” said Reid. “Nowadays … they face hurdles and it’s easy to take the easy way out. He has kept his head up the whole way. It’s a credit to his focus and drive as an individual.”

Reid describes Cranston as being a calming force and someone who has the ability to bring the ball up the court. While he doesn’t do anything fancy, he does things consistently. While defence is Cranston’s focus and he possesses confidence in that area, Reid knows he can help offensively. The Mustangs coach simply put it that Cranston must look to shoot more often.

“He’s a very unselfish kid,” said Reid. “He has to learn to be a little more selfish.”

“I am personally very proud of what Levan has accomplished,” said Van Os. “It shows what can be done if you believe in yourself, set a goal and work hard towards achieving it. What I most admire about Levan is that he would not let anything stand in the way of reaching his goal of making the junior and senior basketball teams at Princess Margaret.”