All-star night of hoops and help
Wednesday’s Top 10 Niagara Region Senior Boys All-Star Game was a showcase of 20 of the best high school basketball players in Niagara.
The game was also a showcase for how Niagara’s basketball community bands together and supports one of its own in a time of need. All proceeds from the game ($1,441) were donated to a trust fund for St. Francis basketball star Tyrell MacLennan and his sister Kalle. They were raised by a single mom, Alison MacLennan, who passed away on March 19 at the age of 56.
“This game means so much and I’m so thankful that Shaun (Feor) and the rest of the coaches were able to come together and do this for me and my family,” Tyrell said.
MacLennan was humbled by everyone’s support, but admitted it was a tough and emotional night for him.
“There is a lot going through my head right now, but I tried to focus and play for everyone who came out tonight,” he said. “I was thankful for everyone that came out and it was very much appreciated.”
MacLennan, who always let the game come to him and rarely forces things, seemed to be off his game Wednesday.
“I was thinking a bit too much and trying to do too much and I should have relaxed and had a bit more fun with it,” the 6-foot-3 player said. “It was my last high school game playing with a lot of kids that I have played with. It was exciting towards the end and I ended up having a lot of fun.”
MacLennan’s mom meant everything to him.
“She was so proud and supportive of everything that I did,” he said. “She was at every single game in the front row cheering her heart out.
“I am going to keep trying to make her proud as my career moves forward, wherever that is.”
St. Francis coach Jon Marcheterre described Alison MacLennan as a single parent who was more like a double parent.
“I didn’t feel offended or bothered by not having a parent around because I was blessed with such an amazing mother,” Tyrell said. “She filled the role of both parents and she did everything for me and my sister. I couldn’t have asked for a better mom.”
During St. Francis’ run to a silver medal at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association’s AA basketball championships, he received countless texts of support from Alison.
“After every single game, she would send me a paragraph about how much she loved me and how proud she was of me,” he said. “She also sent texts to all her friends and family about how they could watch the games online.
“She really made me feel that the silver medal was a gold medal.”
Tyrell has saved those texts in his phone and they are a constant reminder of what his mother meant to him.
He has been accepted at Ryerson, Brock and Guelph and would love to stay in St. Catharines to play for Brock and study in the business administration co-op program.
“I feel it would be best to stay at Brock because there is so much support and love from everyone around me in St. Catharines.”
Those who weren’t at the game can make donations to account number 3492212 at the Meridian Credit Union branch at 106 King St. in St. Catharines. Cheques should be made payable to Paul MacLennan, Peter MacLennan or Jane Jarvis. E transfers can be sent to email@example.com (password is KalleTy).
ZONE FOUR 75 ZONE THREE 74
Wednesday’s top 10 game was about as exciting as you could get with Zone 4 winning 75-74 on a buzzer beater by Sir Winston Churchill’s Asim Serri. Denis Morris’ Noah Honsberger was named player of the game after scoring a team-high 15 points.
“It was a super honour to be selected as a top 10 player in our zone and it was real fun playing against the other guys,” the Grade 11 student said.
Getting named player of the game was an added bonus for the 17-year-old guard.
“I wasn’t going for it,” he said. “You just go out and play and joke around and stuff, but it’s always a good honour to be recognized at the end.”
Honsberger agreed the game was anything but a typical all-star encounter. There were plenty of hard fouls and tough defence was played.
“At the end, it kind of got intense and we started playing for the win in the final two minutes,” the 6-foot-4 player said.
Honsberger is gearing up to play AAU basketball with the newly formed Niagara Tigers this summer, before his Grade 12 year at Denis Morris.
“I want to improve everywhere pretty much and work on getting my body stronger,” he said. “This (past) year, I tried to become more of a leader on my team and lead by example.”
Denis Morris head coach Randy Conlon had a front row seat to Honsberger’s development this season.
“He was our leader and we needed him,” he said. “He is always working on his game and the one thing you don’t see much in basketball now is the mid-range game.
“He works on that constantly and he always has a basketball in his hand.”
Also scoring for the Zone 4 team were Serri (13), St. Francis’ Jack Riddell (10), Denis Morris’ Zubeer Liban (9), St. Francis’ Sam Braithwaite (8), Governor Simcoe’s Alex Cochrane (8), MacLennan (6), Governor Simcoe’s Rahim Bardi (4), Eden’s Ryan Gilbert (3) and Thorold’s Alec Young (1).
Scoring for Zone 3 were Centennial’s Reese Radabenko (19), Saint Michael’s Dusan Krkljus (15), Centennial’s Kennan Larmand (8), Saint Paul’s Victor Kariuki (8), Centennial’s Jacob Bray (6), A.N. Myer’s Nick Murdaca (6), Saint Paul’s Richard Werner (5), Greater Fort Erie’s Bailey Wangler (4) and Notre Dame’s David Jones (1). Notre Dame’s Brandon Graziani had a good game distributing the ball and playing defence.
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