Basketball season is heating up across the Maritimes and one local team is looking at not only racking up its score, but also its audience.

It’s thanks to an idea from one of the Saint John Mill Rats staff members, who hopes to get more youngsters in the stands.

David Morrell has begun raising money for tickets for underprivileged children to see the last game of the season.

“The economy’s down a little bit, so for the people who can afford to give, why not ask them?” says Morrell.

Morrell’s 11-year-old daughter inspired the idea last year. He says she was at one of the Mill Rats games and asked why there weren’t more children in the stands.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know, let’s do something about it.’ So I approached Ian, the owner of the Mill Rats, and said, ‘can I do this?’ and he said ‘absolutely,’” says Morrell.

Morrell started the “For the Kids” program and started to approach businesses to buy tickets for youngsters who wouldn’t normally be able to attend a game.

The tickets purchased with the money raised will be passed along to Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pro Kids, and the Boys and Girls Club of Saint John.

“We’re very excited,” says Sandra Voutour of the Boys and Girls Club. “We know the kids really enjoy watching them play, they’re heroes in their eyes. So very excited to send kids without them having to pay for it, because a lot of our kids wouldn’t have the money to buy the tickets.”

The fundraiser doesn’t benefit just the children who attend the games; the players say having them there makes playing that much more exciting.

“To be this close to professional sports is a great feeling to have, so I like seeing that support and enthusiasm in kids,” says player Cavell Johnson. “So whatever we can do to help, I am willing to do.”

“It’s great, because at one point, we were those kids out there watching guys play,” says player Jerice Crouch. “To be able to have that same affect those guys had on us, I mean, it’s tremendous.”

The game itself will be held on March 3. Players and staff hope an increase of fans will put an extra bounce in everyone’s step and more points on the scoreboard.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ashley Dunbar