Phoenix ousted in Classic semis; DM tops consolation
Two Niagara teams were in the thick of things on Day 2 of the Ontario Catholic Classic Basketball Tournament Saturday at Denis Morris.
The third-seeded Saint Francis Phoenix dropped a 73-56 decision to the Notre Dame (Brampton) Knights in the championship semifinals and the Denis Morris Reds senior boys basketball team rode a three-game winning streak all the way to the consolation championship.
“We have played or seen probably two-thirds of the field coming into this weekend but these guys were an unknown to us. Man, they are good,” Saint Francis coach Jon Marcheterre said after the semifinal game. “Very well coached, very tough and defensively sound, and athletic and smart offensively. Definitely one of the better teams we’ve seen so far this year. On top of that they really shot the ball well today (Saturday). Really well. And unfortunately we didn’t shoot as well as we normally do.”
The Phoenix started strong against the Knights, building a 21-17 lead after the first quarter but Notre Dame took control by outscoring St. Francis 24-9 in the second quarter and 15-9 in the third quarter.
“We trailed almost the entire game, hovering between down seven to 12 most of the way. Every time we got it to single digits and we just needed one more stop and one more score to really make it exciting, ND would come up with a play,” he said. “We made some defensive mistakes that you cannot make against good, athletic teams. We’ll learn from it.”
Top performers for Saint Francis in the semifinal were: Anthony Heyes with 26 points; Andrew Ens with 19 points and six rebounds; Jakub Labanowicz with five points and 17 boards; Jack Ciocca with three points and five rebounds; and, Tommy Goodwin with three points. Heyes was named a tournament all-star after averaging 27 points per game.
Top scorers for Notre Dame were Jaiden Castada-Mandani (19), Cameron Francis (18) and Naheem Davidson (13). Top-seeded Ursuline College defeated Notre Dame 78-69 to win the championship.
Saint Francis advanced to the semifinals by defeating the Assumption College Lions from Brantford 72-54 and the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals (Stoney Creek) 48-44.
“This was a great experience for our guys. They hung in with some of the elite high school teams in the province,” Marcheterre said. “I believe the guys now understand the level we have been trying to push them toward. Our tournament schedule is designed to expose our weaknesses and challenge our guys. The All Catholic has been exactly the type of experience our guys need: Really fast-paced game; up and down; and, tough, very physical but clean.
“Both sides really went at it but never devolved into anything ugly.”
The Reds advanced to the consolation final by defeating the Assumption Brantford Lions 50-43. In the final, Denis Morris recorded a 54-44 victory over the St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders of Oakville.
“Tonight was a complete game for us. We were efficient on offence which kept the energy high for the entire game,” Denis Morris head coach Wade Pychel said. “The last two days of basketball have been amazing for our program. This was a tough tournament from start to finish and they won three tough games in a row to win a championship.”
Scoring for the Reds in the championship game were Michael Ukiomogbe (21), Josh Kaufman (20), Cam Hastings (7), Max Barnowski (3), Will Hastings (2) and Nate Sansaet (1).
Mateo Canizalez topped St. Thomas with 11 points.
Hitting the scoresheet for Denis Morris in the consolation semifinal were Kaufman (17), Cam Hastings (11), Ukiomogbe (10), Sansaet (9) and Carson Mechelse (3).
Luke McKinnon topped Assumption with 15 points.