Phoenix fly to SOSSA championship
Quinton Duemo is searching for gold.
The 18-year-old, Grade 12 guard has earned a silver and bronze medal at OFSAA the last two years and would love nothing better than to complete his collection.
Duemo poured in 14 points as the St. Francis Phoenix qualified for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations senior boys AA basketball championship with a 63-49 win over the Eden Flyers Thursday at the SOSSA final held at E.L. Crossley.
It’s the 17th Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association championship in the last 19 years for the Phoenix.
“That (gold medal) is our main goal going into the tournament,” Duemo said. “We all have the right mindset and all know where we want to be.
“If we play as a team and play together like we know we can, I think we can come out with that.”
Duemo said another trip to OFSAA has been the goal all season, even if the coaching staff of Jono Marcheterre, Pat Sullivan and Jeremy DelaCruz did not speak of it openly.
“That’s been my main focus since the season started. I’ve always had that in the back of my mind that’s where I wanted to be and I think that’s where our entire team wants to be,” Duemo said. “I think this whole season that’s been our main goal. It’s a relief to get there, but we’re not done yet.”
Duemo said the Phoenix realize they will have to find another gear at OFSAA, which is being held in Windsor beginning March 9.
“In the past few years (the competition) has been really good,” he said. “There’s a lot of good teams there and every game is a challenge. There’s no blowout games. You always have to be locked in.”
Marcheterre said the Phoenix are thrilled to be heading back to OFSAA, but don’t base their whole season of qualifying for the Ontario championships.
“We don’t take it for granted and that’s part of why we don’t make it a goal,” he said. “It’s too hard. Only one team is going from SOSSA and there’s some tremendous teams in this region.
“We also recognize and appreciate that we’ve gone a lot.”
The Phoenix defeated the E.L. Crossley Cyclone earlier Thursday to qualify for the final and talked about not taking the Flyers for granted.
“The few hours we had between games our coaches told us we had to stay focused and treat them as we would any other team,” Duemo said.
Marcheterre tipped his cap to the Flyers, who topped Hamilton Sir Winston in their semifinal.
“I don’t want to take away anything from Eden, they played a good game,” he said. “We didn’t have that little jump in our step.”
The Flyers came in as underdogs which head coach Jonathon Thorpe admitted he used as motivation.
“Here’s the inspiration,” he said. “I told them on BP Sports there is a poll who is going to win AA SOSSA and it was Saint Paul, St. Francis and Crossley. There wasn’t even another (team).”
Thorpe, who was quick to give credit to the Phoenix, correctly figured his team had nothing to lose.
“We said just go for it. It’s the SOSSA final and anything can happen. To our credit, they weren’t scared, didn’t play timid, and kept attacking. There was never a time we felt defeated and we kept on fighting back.”
Phoenix 63 Flyers 49
Johnny Rocco’s/Cracker Jacks/Mick and Angelo’s Star of the Game: Phoenix guard Igor M’Baya with 17 points.
St. Francis Phoenix: M’Baya 17; Sacade Kasamba 19; Quinton Duemo 14; Cole Carpenter 6; Ben Lannan 3; Allen Kalonji 2; Andres Pelaez 2.
Eden Flyers: Luke Reinaerts 24; Kyle Mulder 10; Trent Thorpe 7; Ashton Nieuwets 4; Wesley Hanlin 2.
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