VanNatter leads GFESS to consolation crown
Ethan VanNatter had a slow start to the 64th Annual Welland Tribune Basketball Tournament.
The 18-year-old guard with the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons managed only two points as his team opened the tournament with a 57-48 loss to the Denis Morris Reds
“I was struggling,” the 12B student said Saturday, after his team defeated Lakeshore Catholic 58-49 in the consolation final. “Coming off the Christmas break was probably the biggest problem.
“I was pretty upset about the two points, but I dropped (scored) 32 points the next game,” he said.
VanNatter then added 23 in the consolation semifinals and a further 15 points in the final to average 16.8 points a game in the tournament.
The 5-foot-11 player never feels like he has to score for his team to be successful
“Everyone like to shoot and we can all score the ball so I need to get rebounds and assists.”
He has no set goals in mind as his high school basketball career comes to an end.
“I just want to play my best and help my team out as much as I can.”
Greater Fort Erie head coach Dave Adamek is continually impressed with the player of VanNatter, who doesn’t play travel ball.
“The guy can just flat-out score,” he said. “When he gets going, he can score. He can shoot from deep, he has knack for being in the right position and he had a great touch around the rim.”
Adamek knew VanNatter was unhappy with his play after the Gryphons’ opening game.
“He expects a lot from himself and he expects to score,” he said. “He is so steady and it is rare when he only gets two points like he did in the first game.”
VanNatter’s exploits certainly helped Greater Fort Erie reel off three straight wins to take home the consolation crown.
“It’s very nice,” VanNatter said. “It feels great because last year we couldn’t get the win.”
The Gryphons lost 53-52 in last year’s consolation final at the Tribune tourney. Greater Fort Erie made sure that wouldn’t happen again.
“In the off-season, we worked harder and practised a lot more,” VanNatter said.
The Gators trailed 20-10 after one quarter and 35-20 at the half before making a game of it in the second half.
“I’m a bit disappointed because we gave it our all and we just had a really flat first quarter. We kind of came back too late,” Lakeshore head coach Todd Shoalts said. “After the first half, the tide had turned but it was too little too late.”
Shoalts liked what he saw from his team during the tournament.
“They are playing so much better and I would like to play Fort Erie again because we are really competitive with them.”
Shoalts is looking forward to the rest of his team’s year.
“Our season is almost done so hopefully we can get a playoff spot and see what happens.”
Adamek described his team’s victory as a beautiful result.
“It was a fantastic first half and a bit of a tense second half, especially for a while in the third quarter, but I am very proud of the guys for playing hard and never giving up,” he said. “Lakeshore did a great job of coming back hard in the second half because for a while it looked like it was going to be a runaway game.
“They weren’t having any part of that and they played really hard in the second half.”
Like most teams in the tournament, Greater Fort Erie struggled with the rims on the visitors’ side of the gym.
“There’s something going on,” Adamek said. “Even Micah (Stewart). He missed a couple putbacks that were right under the net and Micah is a good player. He doesn’t usually miss those.”
Gryphons 58 Gators 49
Mountainview Homes Players of the Game: Lakeshore’s Nick Qua and Greater Fort Erie’s Austin Ladouceur.
For the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons: Ethan VanNatter 15; Micah Stewart 14; Ladouceur 13; Zachary Tyrell 7; Avery Steinback-Parker 4; Novontay Brown 4; Kiernan Connelly 1.
For the Lakeshore Catholic Gators: Qua 14; Ben Shoalts 10; Aiden Plante 7; Allan Pambianco 7; Samuel Beifuss 4; Thomas Cryer 3; Chace Beauregard 2. Two points not accounted for on game sheet.
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