Under-15 Panthers third in Ontario
A large turnover in its roster didn’t prevent the Pelham Panthers under-15 boys basketball team from winning a bronze medal at the Ontario Basketball Association championships.
“This was a team that began the season with five new players and it was amazing to see how quickly they came together,” assistant coach Darren Williams said. “Throughout the season, the boys bonded and grew together through both court time and team-building events planned by head coach Mike (Hurley).”
Williams was impressed with how supportive the players were of each other on and off the court.
“It was great to see the way they would communicate and you could see they generally wanted to support each other and work towards one goal — to win as a team,” he said. “While we fell just short of our goal of winning the provincial championships, the boys did come home with something just as valuable: friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.”
Pelham had an overall record of 23-8, including finishing in third place in the OBLX League with a record of 9-6. The Panthers were 2-0 in exhibition play and 9-0 in tournaments in winning the Chris Paulin Ottawa Tournament and the annual Pelham Panthers home tournament.
“All 10 players are very skilled offensively and defensively,” assistant coach Rob Minor said. “The guards possess a lot of agility and quickness, can drive to the basket, and can shoot from outside. The forwards have strength and size to play in the key and have versatility to play on the outside when needed.”
Minor felt one of the team’s biggest strengths was its depth.
“The team has a no quit attitude and with the depth of the team, could play at a fast pace with quick rotations.”
Assistant coach Jamie Asma felt the turning point in the season was how the team was able to battle through injuries in OBLX League play.
“It did allow for some extra playing time for some developing players and the experience ended up making the team stronger,” Asthma said. “Having everyone healthy helped us turn the corner and our team was playing at a very high level.
“We were lucky to enter into provincials at full strength, playing our best basketball at the right time. Our developing players had renewed confidence and our strongest players healthy for the season finale.”
The Panthers went 3-2 at the provincials championships to mine the bronze medal.
“A season is like a roller coaster, and a tournament, especially a provincial championship tournament with the eight best teams in Ontario is no different with its ups and downs, twists and turns with the occasional upside down loop to loop,” Hurley said. “The boys fought through adversity all year, supported each other during the ups and downs, picked each other up off the floor and cheered one another on during the twists and turns and all players at different times stepped up when we needed them most.”
Every time the Panthers were challenged at the provincials, they came back with an answer, with more fight, with more energy and more togetherness.
“That was a testament to the year and during the pinnacle of our season,” Hurley said.
Members of the team were Adam Kleinsmith, Alex Lafferty, Carter Williams, Jacob McLeod, Josh Larochelle, Josh Matthews, L.J. Newton, Luke Klassen, Noah Minor and T.J. Hurley.
The team was managed by Andrea Hurley and Kelly Minor.