Standard championship preview
Friday’s championship final of The 58th Annual Standard High School Basketball Tournament will feature an established dynasty against an up and coming powerhouse.
The game, scheduled for 7:45 p.m. at St. Catharines Collegiate will feature the top-seeded St. Francis Phoenix against the second-seeded E.L. Crossley Cyclone.
“St. Francis has been there for the last eight or nine years and that is where Crossley is hopefully going,” Cyclones head coach Brian Bleich said. “This is neat matchup because they are the top team in the region right now against an up and coming team and we will see where we sit.”
St. Francis looking to be the first school to win four straight Standard titles. They are also trying to win for the ninth time in the past 13 years. E.L. Crossley’s win in 1973 is the only Standard title for the Fonthill high school.
Phoenix head coach Jono Marcheterre is trying not to focus on the historic run his school is on.
“The kids know about it and the coaches know what is going on, but it’s something we haven’t talked at all with the team about,” he said. “It’s counter to what we do all year long which is not looking beyond the game that we are playing.”
Igor M’Baya is the only St. Francis player who has been a part of the three previous championships.
“Other than him, a lot of them are new and these guys just want to be a part of what their buddies did before them,” Marcheterre said. “That is enough to motivate them.”
He knows Crossley won’t be a pushover.
“They have some size, for sure, they are long on the perimeter which can present a tough matchup and they can shoot the ball well,” he said. “We are familiar with some of their kids like Owen Dobbie who played with the Niagara Tigers in the summer.
“We anticipate a good matchup and a tough battle.”
St. Francis advanced to the championship game by defeating Laura Secord (73-30), Greater Fort Erie (72-56) and Eden (78-44).
Leading tournament scorers for the Phoenix are Max Riddell (16.3 points per game), M’Baya (11.3 points per game), Quinton Duemo (10.3 points per game) and Sacade Kasamba (18 points in one game played).
Crossley knows it is in tough.
“I am going to go home tonight, sit down, go over my notes and see what I can come up with for tomorrow night,” Bleich said. “I have to figure out who we want to shut down and what my offences and defences are going to be tomorrow.”
One thing for certain is that the Cyclone will take full advantage of its depth.
“You have to, especially against a team like St. Francis,” he said. “They’re deep, they have a lot of experience and they are an older team so I have to get 10 guys in and play an upbeat game.”
The Cyclone advanced to the championship game with victories over Holy Cross (73-30), Ridley College (65-35) and Governor Simcoe (72-58).
Tournament leading scorers for E.L. Crossley are T.J. Hurley (22.0 points per game), Owen Dobbie (10.7 points per game), Jason Carter (8.0 points per game) and Luke Klassen (7.7 points per game).
The consolation final, scheduled for 5:30 p.m., will pit the Centennial Cougars against the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs.
After losing its opening game 52-44, the Cougars advanced to the consolation final by defeating Lakeshore Catholic 59-50 and Niagara Christian 70-44. Tournament leading scorers for Centennial are Nick Yioldassis (13.7 points per game), Jaden Baldwin (8.7 points per game) and Ryan Stark (9.0 points per game).
Sir Winston Churchill opened the tournament with a 65-56 loss. The Bulldogs then advanced to the consolation final with victories over Laura Secord (65-52) and St. Catharines Collegiate (75-62). Leading tournament scorers for the Bulldogs are Alexien Evseyev (26.3 points per game), Yaseen Ali (13.0 points per game) and Connor Johnston (9.3 points per game)