Marauders, Bulldogs open with wins
Mani Maynard found himself directly in the spotlight — both on and off the court — as the 66th Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament opened Wednesday.
The 17-year-old, Grade 12 guard for the A.N. Myer Marauders poured in a game high 32 points as the Marauders defeated the Centennial Cougars 78-45, but not without being the centre of attention of a packed gym full of rabid Cougar fans who taunted the talented guard at every turn.
Fans yelled everything from ‘Overrated’ to ‘You suck,’ but Maynard got the last laugh.
“I didn’t really hear them, but after every bucket it’s just fun,” Maynard said. “I love that. It makes me want to play harder. Overrated. You suck. I just love it.”
Maynard correctly surmised the taunts had more to do with the fact he led all scorers in points, including seven three-pointers, than anything personal.
“They want to win and I was scoring quite a bit so I think they thought to try and get in my head a little bit. It didn’t work, but I see what they were trying to do.”
After the game, Maynard was swarmed by fans who thrust pieces of paper at him wanting his autograph.
Myer coach Tyler Thomson knew the big crowd was going to be a factor.
“Our game plan was to just stay focused on the game itself and ultimately just winning the game,” he said. “For a lot of these guys, it was their first buy-out game so it was important we stress to them not to let the fans get to them and also make sure we didn’t allow Centennial to go on any big runs because it’s such a momentum shifter to have all the fans here.”
Maynard didn’t mince words when asked what the Marauders have in mind for rest of the tournament.
“Just to kill. We want to kill everybody we play. No close games, nothing nice. We want to send a message,” he smiled.
Thomson appreciates what Maynard brings to the court.
“He’s one of our most important players for sure,” he said. “He’s so talented on the floor. He’s able to score in so many different ways and he really helps out our team because opposing teams really seem to focus on him so it opens up space for other guys. His scoring and ability to draw defenders to him really helps us out.”
The Marauders last won a Tribune Tournament was seven years ago.
“We’re looking to get to the championship round,” Thomson said. “Last time Myer won this tournament was 2016. That’s the ultimate goal but we’re going to take this thing one game at a time. I know we’ll have a couple of tough games coming up.”
Centennial coach Craig Maltais wondered what might have been.
“It was a little bit of a frustrating game for us,” he said. “Myer played really great and were able to score a lot of points and were effective from the outside. We didn’t make a ton of shots — we made some — but it’s a game where the spread is quite big but I feel like we played better than the score which I think is a good thing for us.
“Hopefully we get some of those close misses out of the way on the consolation side and if we get a few more buckets hopefully we can go deep into the tournament.”
Marauders 78 Cougars 45
Mountainview Building Group Players of the Game: Myer’s Mani Maynard and Centennial’s Alex Bray.
For the A.N.Myer Marauders: Mani Maynard 32; Adam Abboud 12; Benson Angervil 9; Jonathan Colcuc 8; Louis Pullano 7; Sahil Rizwan 6; Gabe Arcuri 3; Tavish McMahon 2.
For the Centennial Cougars: Alex Bray 11; Marco Reyes 10; Elliot Slack 7; Matt Millar 6; Timi Ijaodola 6; Max McNeil 3; Joel McDede 2.
BULLDOGS 73 THUNDER 48
Mountainview Building Group Players of the Game: Sir Winston’s Brady Pupek and Blessed Trinity’s Michael Akinpetide.
Brady Pupek poured in 22 points as the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs defeated the Blessed Trinity Thunder at E.L. Crossley in one of eight opening round games Wednesday.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Brady Pupek 22; Mazen Yagubi 15; Bennett Pisek 11; Matteo Scaglione 10; Will McAlpine 5; Brandon Plachy 3; Owen Cuthbert 3; Sawyer Neufeld 2.
For the Blessed Trinity Thunder: Michael Akinpetide 18; Tre’von Higgins 8; Nicholas Kolenko 6; Benjamin Soltes 4; Caleb Olomide 4; Luc DiFlavio 3; Samuel Gatto 2; Mawana Chidovi 2.
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