Flyers off to OFSAA
Riley Stewart was determined not to spend his final days as a member of the Eden Flyers on the sidelines.
The 17-year-old, Grade 12 student has been hampered by a knee injury suffered in December and only recently returned to action.
Stewart’s return to the lineup couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as he poured in a combined 52 points Monday as the Flyers won a pair of games to capture the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association AAA senior boys basketball championship.
Stewart scored 29 points as the Flyers defeated Saltfleet 61-55 in the morning semifinal before adding 23 more as Eden defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 87-49 in the final to punch their ticket to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAA playdowns in Sarnia March 6-8.
“I was starting to feel a bit better and playoffs were coming so I thought I might as well get on the court now,” he said. “Last week I jumped into practice and started games right away. It definitely needs more time to recover but I’m still playing.”
”It feels really great. Just working with the team all season, ups and downs, I was injured and I’m still not fully back but I’m back to playing.”
Stewart was happy to be able to contribute to a pair of victories.
“Individually, I’m glad my hard work is paying off but as a team it’s good we’re getting the wins,” he said. “I just do my part and individual success helps to do that part.”
Eden coach Jonathon Thorpe was proud as a peacock when asked about his team.
“We’ve just had an incredible season,” he said. “We’ve dealt with a lot of ups and downs in terms of injuries and to have everybody back together at this point, at the right point, playing together, I couldn’t be more proud of the way these guys played.”
The victory was perhaps even sweeter for the Flyers who lost in the finals to the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs in both The Welland Tribune and Standard tournaments.
“The Tribune and The Standard obviously wasn’t what we wanted to happen but ultimately this game was our goal right from practice No. 1,” Thorpe said.
Thorpe feels the Flyers can do some damage at OFSAA.
“We played a tournament in Kitchener-Waterloo with a lot of good teams that we won and we put together a pretty good body of work,” he said. “We only had five losses and four of those to the same team (Sir Winston Churchill) so if somebody is looking at our record, I’m assuming we’ll be ranked well.
“I think this team is good enough that we can (medal). Getting there was a big step but obviously we want to have a good showing for ourselves. These guys deserve it. They’re good.”
Notre Dame assistant coach Frank Capretta tipped his cap to the Flyers, particularly Riley and Caleb Stewart.
“We just had no answers for the (Stewart) twins. They’re great players. The pace they play at, you can’t speed them up. They dictate the way they want to play,” he said.
The loss put an end to the season for the Irish.
“We’re going to lose some guys. I don’t know what the future is going to bring for some of the older boys but we have a good, young team so nobody is going to feel sorry for Notre Dame,” Capretta said.
Capretta said their win over host Myer in the semifinal was memorable.
“It was everything these kids missed for the last two years for high school basketball,” he said. “It was a great environment. Both teams were motivated to play. A lot of history between the two schools back in the day, lots of great games.
“We had a nice-sized lead and they made a run at us and we responded and then they responded back and forth. We just happened to make that last shot.”
Flyers 87 Fighting Irish 49
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Eden’s Riley Stewart with 23 points.
For the Eden Flyers: Kaleb Stewart 23; Chad Thorpe 19; Caleb Stewart 18; Edson Sanecki 6;
Kai Schatz 3; Tye Klassen 3; VJ Phillips 3; Luke Johnson 3; Graham Midgley 2; Rhys Weinert 2.
For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Adam Ponting 19; Trent Groulx 10; Kevin Schweyer 8; Nicholas Capretta 6; Rylan Lauder 3; Michael Ventresca 2.
Flyers 61 Saltfleet 55
For the Eden Flyers: Riley Stewart 29; Caleb Stewart 15; Chad Thorpe 12; Luke Midgley 2; Edson Sanecki 2; Kai Shantz 1.
Irish 55 Marauders 54
For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Adam Ponting 16; VJ Phillips 14; Kevin Schweyer 8; Rylan Lauder 6; Nicholas Capretta 4; Andrew Benko 3; Chris Ortiz 2; Groulx 2.
For the A.N. Myer Marauders: Johnny Colcuc 12; Jayke Arnold 10; Tavish McMahon 7; Benny Angervil 5; Sahil Rizwan 3; Ezzo Hassaan 2. Several points unaccounted for on game sheet.
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