Spencer rejoins Golden Eagles
Colton Spencer has vivid memories of the opening game of last year’s Standard High School Basketball Tournament.
The 59-45 victory for his Thorold Golden Eagles squad over the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons was his last game of the season.
“I went up for a layup in the third quarter and I tore my ACL, MCL and meniscus,” the 18-year-old said Monday, after scoring 21 points to lead the Golden Eagles to a 62-35 victory over the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs in opening-round action at the 57th Annual Standard High School Basketball Tournament.
“It was a pretty bad knee injury and I had no clue how bad it was. But I thought it was broken or something,” the 12B student said. “I just knew it was bad and I wasn’t going to be playing any more.”
He admitted it was hard to be away from basketball and his teammates.
“I definitely missed playing with them,” he said.
The 6-foot-1 guard received clearance to play at the start of December.
“I couldn’t wait for our first tournament and I was pretty excited at our first practice,” he said. “I just missed the court.”
His goal is to help the team win in whatever way he can.
“Our goal is OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships) and I think this team can do great things.”
Spencer will play a key role if his team is to get there.
“What is great about Colton is that he a leader,” Thorold coach Marc Dupont said. “He’s a leader in the school, he’s a leader in practice and he’s a leader in the game.
“When he is out there, he is just that presence.”
He’s also versatile.
“When we need shooting from outside or crashing the boards or pressuring on D (defence), he is out there showing everybody what needs to be done,” Dupont said.
Spencer is busy shaking off rust and making other adjustments.
“I’m definitely a different player,” he said. “I was more explosive last year, but I had to change my game because of my knee. I’m more of a shooter now.
The Bulldogs trailed 16-8, 27-20 and 47-28 at the end of each of the first three quarters.
“We have a very young group,” Churchill head coach Gregg Loucks said. “We did some good things, but we just couldn’t score. We will get better with time.”
Churchill is also early in its development this season because of the senior volleyball team making it all the way to the OFSAA AAA quarter-finals.
“There are guys who played today who hadn’t been to a practice, but no excuses,” Loucks said. “They (Thorold Golden Eagles) are a good team.”
Thorold opened The Standard tournament in impressive fashion.
“We have a nice little rivalry with Sir Winston and we were nervous and excited at the same time,” Dupont said. “We were happy with the start we had in the game because we came out lively and took ownership in the first quarter.”
But the Bulldogs wouldn’t go away.
“They really fought back in the second and it was nice to see our guys step up and pressure them a little better in the second half and take control of the game.”
Thorold has high hopes for this season.
“We’re pretty excited and getting Colton Spencer back from injury definitely helps our team,” Dupont said. “We have a nice group of kids that have come up and all they want to do is ball.
“They’re excited to play and they buy into whatever Coach K (John Kwiatkowski) wants to do and we’re hoping to be competitive with anybody we get on the court with.”
PHOENIX 69 NAVIGATORS 38
Sam Braithwaite scored 21 points Monday as the top-seeded St. Francis Phoenix opened the Standard tournament with a 69-38 victory over the Niagara Christian Navigators.
Also scoring for the Phoenix were Igor M’Baya (15), Nick Hoggan (13), Enrico Rescigno (8), Sacade Kasamba (5), Luc Fortin (4) and Can Van Hezewyk (3).
David Lai topped the Navigators with 18 points. Also scoring for the Navigators were Neil Wangler (11), Days Williams (5) and Rock Benjamins (4).
Golden Eagles 62 Bulldogs 35
No Limit Performance/Kully’s Player of the Game: Thorold’s Colton Spencer with 21 points and Churchill’s Brendan Barker with 12 points
For the Thorold Golden Eagles: Spencer 21; Devon Maltby 15; Braydon Harriet 15; Matt Literovich 5; Yvan Canlas 2; Nathan Brew 2; Jack Yarnell 1; Cameron Klassen 1.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Barker 12; Noah Garnace 7; Nick Beaudoin 7; Connor Johnston 5; Oreoluwa Foster 2; Aziz Basic 1; Jack Harley 1.