Bulldogs relish final home court appearance
The Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs were styling Wednesday.
Minutes after defeating the Thorold Golden Eagles 61-35 to capture the Niagara Regional Athletic Association senior boys AA Zone 3 basketball championship, the Bulldogs posed for a team picture with their parents wearing special white t-shirts the coaching staff had designed to honour the eight graduating players.
“Just a little thing we did for our seniors,” Sir Winston coach Martin Cook said. “This was their final game on this floor. Just a little bit of a send off for them.”
The eight graduating players — Bennett Pisek, Brady Pupek, Mazen Yagubi, Mujeeb Omar, Will McApline, Owen Cuthbert, Quinn Johnson and Nicholas Rawsthorne — went 43-1 over two seasons and captured five tournament championships in five attempts.
“They’ve had an amazing two years,” Cook said. “That’s pretty impressive and we wanted to give them the proper send off and recognize everything they have done for this team and this school.”
Owen Cuthbert, an 18-year-old, Grade 12 student, gushed with praise when asked about his experiences on the court.
“We’ve been playing since Grade 9,” he said. “We didn’t have a Grade 10 season so I feel together we’ve been family this whole time. Everybody has been on the team every year. We’ve grown together, had chemistry together and won games.
“It’s all about family. We love each other even though you might see us talking on the bench, or talking to the other team. It’s just fun for us to come out here and play.”
Cuthbert feels the Bulldogs’ chemistry is a big reason for their success.
“It’s means the world. When somebody’s on the ground and you come and pick them up, everybody appreciates each other and treats each other equally.
“I’ve never had a team like this. I’ve played travel and elementary. I’ve never had a team that treated me like this. Same with the coaches. I want to thank Martin and Wanda (Cook) for helping me over these years.”
Cook was pleased 10 players were able to hit the scoresheet Wednesday.
“Really, the goal was to recognize this was our last game on this court and get everybody in and everybody chip in in some way and I think that happened today so I’m pretty happy about that,” he said.
The Bulldogs advance to the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (SOSSA) AA playoffs Monday at Saint Francis.
“We know we have some tough games coming up,” Cook said. “Sounds like we have (Sir Allan) MacNab (Hamilton) in the first round. They’re a really good team so they’re going to be tough. We’ll have to be ready.”
Thorold coach Marc Dupont tipped his cap to the Bulldogs.
“We didn’t come here to lose but hats off to Sir Winston and their program,” Dupont said. “They played a great game and have a great bunch of kids and we wish them the best of luck moving on to SOSSA.”
The Golden Eagles captured the consolation title at the 59th Standard/Kully’s High School Tournament in December and Dupont feels the future is bright for basketball at Thorold.
“I have to say I’m really happy with this group. It’s a little sad because for some of them this was their last game but we came into this year looking to build our program up and our seniors and juniors have taken a step in the right direction.”
Bulldogs 61 Golden Eagles 35
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Sir Winston’s Bennett Pisek with 15 points.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Pisek 15; Brady Pupek 12; Mazen Yagubi 10; Mujeeb Omar 8; Will McApline 4; Jared Cook 3; Jaxson Beaman 3; Owen Cuthbert 2; Matteo Scaglione 2; Daniel Nunez Colome 2.
For the Thorold Golden Eagles: Hunter Fluellon 12; Issac Walker 11; Nick Wuhlar 7; Nathan Miller 4; Hayden Salino 1.
Up next: The Bulldogs advance to the SOSSA AA championship Monday at Saint Francis.
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