Cyclone and Phoenix open strong
The E.L. Crossley Cyclone senior boys basketball team turned its opening game of the 59th Annual Standard Kully’s Boys High School Basketball Tournament into a track meet and ran away for a 64-50 victory over the West Niagara Wolfpack Monday.
“With our team in general, we are all about running the ball. If we don’t run the ball, we don’t score,” Crossley head coach Brian Bleich. “We have to get to the basket before they can set up their defence.”
The lead runner in the track meet for the Cyclone is point guard Samuel Jeffery. His athletic credentials include winning the Athletics Ontario and Legion National Youth Track and Field decathlons titles this past summer.
“Sam has played for me since Grade 3. He has always been a feisty player, he’s quick and a track star,” Bleich said. “He has a background in speed and he can shoot the ball. He can put the ball in the basket (outside shooting) which he didn’t do tonight.”
The Grade 12 student had six layups in the third quarter to help his team take control of the game. He would finish with a game-high 24 points.
The 17-year-old looked like he was having a blast on the court.
“It’s just another cross training thing. I am just having fun for my last year and I want to do all the sports I can and continue open with the guys,” he said. “We were running out there and having fun.”
Basketball can certainly help his track aspirations.
“It is just the conditioning aspect of it. It is fun and it gives me extra cardio and it’s not an overload of school. It is something to look forward to after school and this is a great tournament to start off the year.”
Jeffery has enjoyed his long-time coach/player relationship with Bleich.
“I started out in U8 and ever since then Brian has been my coach,” he said. “He obviously cares for us, he puts a lot of effort in as coach, he helps us out and he gets us to where we need to be.”
Jeffery is looking at a number of schools to compete in track and field at the post secondary level and he already has a couple of offers to choose from.
“I am still looking at the options and seeing where my best fit is and hopefully I will be making a decision soon.”
West Niagara led 30-29 at the half but Crossley outscored the Wolfpack 20-8 in the third quarter to take a lead it would not relinquish.
“I think it was a lack of us picking up their transition on offence. We didn’t get back on D,” West Niagara coach Stephanie Findlay said,
West Niagara’s defensive prowess was hit by an early game injury to one of their starters, its sixth man was sick and unable to play and one of the team’s top transition defenders was not 100 per cent.
“It is tough when you have players missing but that is not an excuse because we do have a very deep team,” she said. “You want to be able to rely on different guys and I felt we didn’t work as hard as they did today. They outplayed us a little but I feel skill-wise we are right there with them. It showed in the first half — we were there the whole time — and then they pulled away from us. We didn’t know how to regroup and get back into it.”
Bleich said the turnaround in the game came when the Cyclone switched to a zone defence from man to man.
“We saw that they had two guys so we decided to go to a zone, protect our basket and get out on those two shooters.”
Cyclone 64 Wolfpack 50
Kully’s Player of the Game: Crossley’s Samuel Jeffery and West Niagara’s Shiv Ramdial.
For the E.L. Crossley Cyclone: Jeffery (24), Matthew Kleinsmith (11), Jackson Kalybaba (10), Luca Burattini (9), Aakash Senthil (4), Max Johnson (3) and Connor Bleich (3).
For the West Niagara Wolfpack: Ramdial (11), Kabeer Phull (11), Aiden Dawe (10), Clayton Maurice (4), Evan Fletcher (4), Tyler Foster (4), Nate Skeldon (4) and Jayden Khan (2).
PHOENIX 88 SPARTANS 36
The Saint Francis Phoenix moved on to the championship quarter-finals with an 88-36 victory over the Westlane Spartans Monday.
Kully’s Players of the Game were Jack Ciocca for Saint Francis and Amav Sharma for Westlane,
Scoring for the Phoenix were Ciocca (13), Elijah Quissua (13), Austin Hinds (11), Anthony Heyes (10), Seth McLaughlin (8), Carter MacNeil (6), Nawaf Kigab (6), Josh Smith (6), Andrew Ens (5), Jakub Labanowicz (2) and Tommy Goodwin (2).
Scoring for Westlane were Arnav Sharma (22), Dylan Klassen (7), Marko Niezurawski (3), Aldin Prsic (2), Alex Darbyson (2) and Joevince Quanico (1).