Phoenix soar on to SOSSA
The St. Francis Phoenix punched their ticket to the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association championships with a convincing 64-27 victory over the Thorold Golden Eagles for the zone 4 senior boys AA basketball championship Thursday at St. Francis.
The Phoenix advanced to the SOSSA playoffs Monday on their home court. The Phoenix take on the Zone 3 champion Welland Centennial Cougars at 9 a.m. Zone 2 plays Zone 1 at 11 a.m. with the winners meeting at 4 p.m. for the championship.
The Phoenix set the tone early, racing out to a 19-2 lead after one quarter.
“It (the early lead) helped a lot,” Phoenix forward Tyrell MacLennan said. “At the beginning of the season, we struggled with that. We’re getting better and now we have to keep that level of intensity for the whole game.”
Phoenix coach Jono Marcheterre said the game plan was to come out and try to build an early lead.
“Every minute, every possession, you let a team hang around a game you just give them more confidence,” he said. “It was important for us to come out early, come out sticking to our game plan and executing.”
With a Zone 4 title in their possession, the Phoenix can finally look to SOSSA.
“We’ve had our sights set on SOSSA, but we try not to get too far ahead of ourselves because there is a lot of work to do,” Marcheterre said. “Every game is the most important game. We’re trying to keep them focused in the moment.”
MacLennan, too, is trying to keep focused on the task at hand.
“I’m pretty excited, but I’m not going to let it go to my head,” he said. “We have to play every game like we usually do and keep working hard and make it to OFSAA.”
MacLennan said a trip to the Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association championship has been the goal from Day 1.
“Especially after making it last year,” he said. “We feel we have an even stronger team than last year.
“It’s not even getting to OFSAA, it’s winning OFSAA.”
Thorold coach Marc Dupont tipped his cap to St. Francis.
“We tried our best to prepare, but we prepared for a team that plays games against higher level teams than we’re accustomed to,” he said. “We saw that right from the start. They were ready for us and came out and played hard.
“Our guys aren’t used to playing games against teams at that level and got frustrated. We gave up easy baskets and kept battling right to the end.”
Dupont was able to look past the disappointment of a season-ending loss and focus on a memorable campaign for the Golden Eagles, who captured their first Niagara Catholic Athletic Association championship to advance to Thursday’s final.
“We saw some good things from them and we’ve had a great season. We’re really proud of the guys for getting to this and we’re getting a taste of what the next level is like.”
Phoenix 64 Golden Eagles 27
BPSN Star of the Game: St. Francis forward Tyrell MacLennan with 13 points.
For the St. Francis Phoenix: MacLennan 13; Sam Braithwaite 12; Igor M’Baya 11; Mark Mesina 10.
For the Thorold Golden Eagles: Braydon Harrietha 9; Alec Young 5; Jake Stirtzinger 5; Devon Maltby 5.
By the quarter: St. Francis led 19-2 after one quarter, 38-9 at the half and 55-22 after three.
From the floor: St. Francis 24-for-60; Thorold 9-for-40.
Up next: The Phoenix advance to the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association playdowns Monday on their home court. The Phoenix take on the Zone 3 champion Welland Centennial Cougars at 9 a.m. Zone 2 plays Zone 1 at 11 a.m. with the winners meeting at 4 p.m. for the championship.
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