Cyclone edge Irish to advance (Updated with pictures)
The E.L. Crossley Cyclone put a good deal of faith in Matthew Kleinsmith.
The 16-year-old guard is one of only three Grade 11 players on the team, yet plays a vital role at both ends of the floor.
Kleinsmith scored six points and also did a good job helping bring the ball up the floor to help the Cyclone defeat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 42-36 in a championship round quarter-final game Thursday at Notre Dame in the 66th Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament.
Kleinsmith feels familiarity is a key to his comfort level when he plays the point.
“I have a lot of experience with this kind of offence,” he said. “I know a lot of guys on the team so I know how they play. We play together really easily so it’s easy to play with these guys.
“I played at elementary school (Glynn A Green) with a lot of these guys when I was 10. I’ve known a lot of them for a long time.”
Kleinsmith said being aware is also a key.
“Always keep you head up, always know where everyone is on your team. You have to be able to see everyone and when you drive know where your players are because you have to give them open shots as well,” he said.
Kleinsmith said he enjoyed the experience of playing in enemy territory in a tournament setting.
“It’s great to play in front of these crowds and I know a lot of guys on their team so it’s about being competitive and also having fun,” he said.
Kleinsmith felt it was a team effort that helped get the Cyclone over the top.
“I feel like our bench brought us a lot of energy which helped us in front of this big crowd and we move the ball really well,” he said. “We all got our shots and scored.”
Crossley coach Brian Bleich is a big fan of Kleinsmith’s basketball IQ.
“He adds to Samuel (Jeffrey) as second guard or a point guard for us,” Bleich said. “If they focus on two or three of our guys Matthew can bring the ball up and usually it’s a weaker guy on him so it allows us to bring the ball up easier.
“He plays travel basketball. He has some little things to learn but he knows the game and understands the game. When I yell something out he understands what I’m saying. He comprehends it and then put it to use on the floor.”
Bleich said it was imperative the Cyclone not expend too much energy with a short bench.
“I think we got up at the beginning by four or six points and we held that lead. I think that was the key for us to stay up the whole game and keep that little gap,” he said. “At the end it got close there. You heard me yelling to slow it down. We only had six bodies tonight. Another quarter and it would have been a whole different situation.”
The Cyclone advance to the semifinals versus the Standard Tournament champion Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs while the Irish were eliminated. It will be the first time since 2012 when Centennial defeated A.N. Myer without Notre Dame in the championship final.
“I was telling the boys that a lot of them don’t understand the rivalry between Notre Dame and Crossley,” Bleich said. “It goes back years and we used to take the brunt of it losing by 30 and 40 points so it’s a big win for us. For them, to beat Notre Dame in their gym, it was like a championship game for us.
“We know we’re playing Sir Winston who are a very good team and it’s going to be tough.”
CYCLONE 42 IRISH 36
Mountainview Building Group Players of the Game: Crossley’s Aakash Senthil and Notre Dame’s Adam Ponting.
For the E.L. Crossley Cyclone: Aakash Senthil 11; Luca Burattini 10; Sam Jeffery 7; Jackson Kalybaba 7; Matthew Kleinsmith 6; Connor Bleich 1.
For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Adam Ponting 8; Nicholas Capretta 8; Owen Phillips 8; Kevin Schweyer 4; Michael Ventresca 3; Andrew Benko 3; Zion Ferguson-Pilkington 2.
PATS 45 THUNDER 29
Mountainview Building Group Players of the Game: Saint Paul’s Isaac Jordan and Blessed Trinity’s Caleb Olomide.
Issac Jordan poured in 19 points and Joey Primerano-Williams added nine as the Saint Paul Patriots topped the Blessed Trinity Thunder in consolation round quarter-final action.
For the Saint Paul Patriots: Isaac Jordan 19; Joey Primerano-Williams 9; Matteo Canakis 5; Carter Yott 4; Dante De Benedetti 2; Charlie McCamley 1.
For the Blessed Trinity Thunder: Michael Akinpetide 7; Mawana Chidovi 7; Luc DiFlavio 5; Nicholas Kolenko 4; Mateo Villella 4; Caleb Olomide 2.
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