Golden Eagles soar to consolation crown
The success of the Thorold Golden Eagles can be traced back to the summer when several players from the senior and junior teams came in out of the sun to work on their basketball skills in the gym at Thorold High School.
“We don’t necessarily have all the club players but these kids last year lost in zone semifinals and the juniors didn’t make the playoffs,” Eagles coach Marc Dupont said. “Those kids got in the gym in June 15 times just to go out and play with their friends and work on things and they came in with the right attitude.”
All that hard work paid off Friday night at the St. Catharines Collegiate when the Golden Eagles topped the Holy Cross Raiders 42-24 in the consolation championship game of the 59th Kully’s/Standard High School Boys Basketball Tournament.
It is the third consolation title for the Golden Eagles who also won in 2009/10 and 1997/98.
“I’ve only been coaching nine years and I know there’s a lot of great kids who have come in and out of this school,” Dupont said. “We have really good team chemistry and they did a really good job of listening and executing our defence and executing our offence.
“I’m really, really proud of them and think the whole community of Thorold really has something to be proud of.”
The Golden Eagles dropped the opening game of the tournament to the Denis Morris Reds, then had to readjust their sights on the consolation bracket.
“We really wanted to win that game against DM,” Dupont said. “Hats off to them. They really shot the ball well and we didn’t. That carried over into our quarter-final match and it took a while before we picked up our energy and our belief in ourselves to fight back in that game.”
The Golden Eagles then survived a late rally by the Smithville Christian High School Storm in the semifinals to advance to the final.
“Credit to Smithville. They came back and we got a little nervy but we go the job done,” Dupont said.
The Golden Eagles were once again paced offensively by Issac Walker, who poured in 19 points to finish with 93 over his four games.
“You hear a lot of coaches say nose for the net and he’s the poster boy for that,” Dupont said. “He just gets the ball and the next thing you know he’s going up and putting it off the backboard and in. He’s unstoppable in the post.
“All he wants to do is get better. He works so hard. That kind of attitude spills over to other kids on the team and it shows what a great kid he is. I’m really proud of him.”
Walker was all smiles when asked about his success this week.
“I had so much fun,” he said. “It was the best. The thought process was obviously to win. We lost to DM at the start so we wanted to win every single game.
“It’s best thing.”
Dupont gave credit to the entire squad for the victory.
“It’s not just him (Walker),” Dupont said. “Tonight we came out and executed. It’s starts with defence. We have Isaac who’s a superstar but it was team defence that won this championship.”
Dupont feels the future is bright for basketball at Thorold.
“It’s going to spill over,” he said. “It’s great to have success this early in the season but we’re building for February.”
Dupont is also working behind the scenes to attempt to create a more stable program.
“I don’t come from a basketball background like a lot of the coaches at the some of the bigger schools so I’ve had to do a lot of work and a lot of learning,” he said. “We’re trying to put a program in place where all the coaches are on the same page and teaching the same things. It’s only our second year of doing this but we’re already starting to see success and we’re hoping to build on it from there.”
Holy Cross coach Randy Conlon felt the Raiders had a chance to win the game, but came up short offensively.
“We coached our asses off. We never quit and the kids never quit and I think we got a lot of the looks we wanted,” he said. “There’s not one kid in the history of sports, I don’t think, have ever tried to miss a shot. It just happens. If we would have shot like that against West Niagara, we wouldn’t be here.
Conlon was still was proud of his team in defeat.
“I’m happy for the kids, they earned it,” Conlon said. “My heart is breaking for Lucas (Muon) because he and Dwayne (Osbourne) got us here and he just had an off night and it happens.”
Eagles 42 Raiders 24
Kully’s/Sport Regatta Players of the Game: Issac Walker for Thorold and Greg Wenglowski for Holy Cross.
Scoring for the Thorold Golden Eagles: Issac Walker 19; Nathan Miller 13; Hunter Fluellon 5; Spencer Fluellon 4; Lebron Brew-Kellman 2.
Scoring for the Holy Cross Raiders: Greg Wenglowski 6; Arin Sayegh 6; Dwayne Osbourne 4; Lucan Muon 4; Terrell Wallace 3; Owen Corcoran 1.
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