Ontario’s best young ballers bring their talents to Windsor

Ryan Blevins
By Ryan Blevins March 11, 2016 10:37

Ontario’s best young ballers bring their talents to Windsor

Catholic Central's DOnald Mensah (00) follows through on his free throw attempt during their second round game against Pine Ridge on Tuesday.

Catholic Central’s Donald Mensah (00) follows through on his free throw attempt during their second round game against Pine Ridge on Tuesday.

 

By Ryan Blevins

 

During a week full of gold, silver and bronze in the city, Windsor was host to the Boys Triple A Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association tournament.

The best high school basketball teams in the province made the journey down the 401 to Windsor on their quest for supremacy in Ontario basketball. Catholic Central High School was the host venue for the event with long time head basketball coach, Peter Cusumano as the event convenor. Last year’s host school, Kennedy Colligate Secondary School, was also used as a secondary gym for the first two rounds while the final day of the tournament was played at the St. Clair College SportsPlex.

The event tipped off Sunday evening at the annual OFSAA banquet. This year’s event, hosted at the Giovanni Caboto Club, had a particular emphasis on teamwork as well as enjoying the moment. The young athletes had the privilege of hearing from University of Michigan head basketball coach, John Beilein who was the guest speaker for the evening. After the athletes were fed, coach Beilein spoke for a short time and preached integrity and unity to the students. Each player of the 18 teams in attendance received a meal, an event program and an evening snack before returning to their hotel room.

“There’s a thousand moving parts,” said convenor Peter Cusumano. “Our committee is probably about 14 people, we do a lot of work.”

The three day tournament hosted 300 players who played a total of 33 games at three venues. A total of 150 passes were sold, another 100 scouts and schools attended while approximately 12, 000 more fans took advantage of the online live streams. Each fan was given an event program, 1, 000 were printed in total. To commemorate the milestone event OFSAA sold apparel at the banquet and at each venue. More than $7, 000 in appeal revenue was generated by the athletes who brought them back to one of the approximately 170 hotel rooms booked for the event.

Aside from the economic advantage the tournament brought to Windsor, there was high level basketball played. Three of the top four finishers in the tournament represented the greater Toronto area including the gold medalist, Father Henry Carr Crusaders. Due to Windsor being the host city two local teams also participated in the tournament. Catholic Central was the twelfth seeded team in the tournament while St. Anne High School was the eighth seeded team.

“It’s nice to have home court advantage. We get to sleep in our own beds while a lot of teams are travelling from up to eight hours away,” said Mitchell Zimmerman a senior on the St. Anne Saints.

The Saints were upset in their opening game of the tournament against lower seeded St. Patrick’s Secondary School. After losing their next game to the OFSAA silver medal winning Oakwood C.I. the Saints would move to the consolation bracket were they would seek revenge on the St. Pat’s Irish. The Saints would match up with the Irish in the consolation semi-finals and get the last laugh winning a thriller 56-54 thanks to 30 points from Anthony Zrvnar. A consolation silver would be the result for St. Anne as they were trumped in a tough loss to Sir Allen MacNabb Secondary School.

The Catholic Central Comets were expected to go for gold after winning the Triple A tournament last season but instead came up with a quick exit to the tournament. After a winless first day of the tournament against a pair of higher seeded teams the Comets couldn’t prevail over consolation champion MacNabb despite 18 points from Donald Mensah. The Comets quick exit was not exactly what the players and most local fans were expecting.

Catholic Central senior forward Dominic Johnson said his team’s performance didn’t go as planned.

“The plan coming in were to try and knock off Vaughn,” said Johnson. “It didn’t work out the way we wanted to. Definitely disappointing after losing those next two games but it was still a great experience.”

The final day of the tournament was hosted at the St. Clair College SportsPlex. After upsetting the highly favoured Vaughn High School in what was one of the most exciting games of the tournament, Sir John A Macdonald came in fourth place being defeated by the St. Michael’s Blue Raiders. In the gold medal game, Father Henry Carr showed their experience and finally got over the hump of OFSAA defeating Oakwood by a score of 61-53.

The event concluded with the medal ceremony as well as the cutting down of the mesh

so each player could return home with a memento to commemorate their historical tournament run.

Ryan Blevins
By Ryan Blevins March 11, 2016 10:37

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