Cougars take opener over Gators
Welland Centennial guard Reese Radobenko had 11 points Wednesday to help the Cougars top the Lakeshore Catholic Gators. PHOTO BY: BILL POTRECZ
Reese Radobenko has evolved into an important cog in the starting lineup for the Welland Centennial Cougars.
The 17-year-old Grade 12 student chipped in on both offence and defence as the Cougars defeated the Lakeshore Catholic Gators 66-31 Wednesday at Centennial in one of eight opening round games at the 63rd Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament.
Radobenko has a big fan in Cougars head coach Phil Mosley.
“Reese does a little bit of everything for us,” Mosley said. “He’s really, really improved his game over his high school career.”
Radobenko fired home 11 points Wednesday, including a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter, as the Cougars raced out to a 27-11 lead after eight minutes.
“He shoots the ball well. It used to be he got open shots because they were focusing on other people on our team, but that’s not the case now,” Mosley said.
“He creates his own shots and he’s just a really sound ball handler. He’s one of those glue guys for us. He gets to the rim better than most of our guys do as probably the smallest guy on our team.”
Radobenko is also a good all-round athlete.
“He’s gone in the weight room and worked on his strength and conditioning, and you can see that out there now. He’s not knocked off the ball as much and he’s stronger on the ball. He just has a real well-rounded game.”
Radobenko comes from a sports-orientated family. His father, Robb Radobenko, was a former junior B hockey player who also excelled on the baseball diamond and his grandfather, Dan Radobenko, is well-known player, coach and umpire in Welland baseball circles.
“I tried baseball and tried hockey and didn’t like it,” Reese said. “My dad also played basketball and by grandfather played basketball in college, so I started playing and I knew that was the sport.”
Reese began his basketball career in house league, but now plays travel for the Welland Warriors as well as the Cougars.
“I started taking it more seriously once I got to high school and working out more,” he said.
Radobenko enjoys his role on the high-powered Cougars, who feature a number of solid offensive players.
“They want me to make shots and just keep the tempo calm. We have a lot of players who like to score. I can knock down shots, but I can also find them.
“It’s a team effort all around.”
The Cougars, who lost in last year’s tournament final, came out firing on all cylinders before a packed gym.
“Everybody shot the ball well at the beginning of the game, so everybody got into the game,” Mosley said. “I think that was a real positive for us.
“My starters didn’t play a lot but they got into the game, so that will bode well for us down the road.”
Gators coach Wade Pychel knew his squad was going to be in for a tough game.
“We tried to push the ball with every defensive rebound we got,” he said. “I never tell my guys not to take the open shot. I encourage it because some of the guys can really stroke it when they get hot.”
The Gators now slide to the consolation side and take on Greater Fort Erie Thursday.
“It’s a good opportunity. I told the guys you may get only one or two Tribune Tournaments in your career. The opportunity to play in the oldest tournament in Ontario is really saying something. The opportunity to play for a trophy is something special, so don’t take it for granted.”
BPSN player of the Game: Centennial forward Kennan Larmand with 19 points.
For the Centennial Cougars: Larmand 19; Reese Radobenko 11; Jacob Bray 9; J.P. Sajona 7; Jorden Brewster 6; Tyler Dilts 5; Carl Paulemont 3; Jack Halliday 2; Connor Joliffe 2; Nick Yioldassis 2.
For the Lakeshore Catholic Gators: Allan Pambianco 12; Nicolas Cryer 6; Aiden Plante 5; Nick Qua 5; Caleb McLean 3.
Up next: Centennial vs. Crossley, 3:30 p.m. at Centennial. Lakeshore vs. Fort Erie, 5 p.m. at Centennial.
Bulldogs 64 Lynx 47
Asim Serri poured in 25 points as the visiting Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs defeated the Jean Vanier Lynx by 17.
Diego Ruiz added 13 for the Bulldogs while Ahmed Mohammed chipped in with seven. Matt Johnson (6), Andres Sanchez (5); Mo Essex (2), Drake Christie (2) and Hailin Wang (2) rounded out the scoring for SWC.
The Lynx were led by Jacob Labonte with 18 and Ian Hauber and Phil Angervil with 12 each. Jacob Fontaine (3) and Stephan Legagneur (2) completed the scoring.
Up next: Sir Winston vs. Denis Morris at Notre Dame, 5 p.m. Jean Vanier vs. Port Colborne, 12:45 p.m. at Vanier.