Vernon earns MVP honours
Isiah Vernon was in it to win it.
The 18-year-old, Grade 12B student at Greater Fort Erie Secondary School enjoyed playing with some of his contemporaries at the 2023 Niagara All-Star Showcase, but when push came to shove, he wanted to emerge with a victory.
Vernon did his part, pouring in 13 points and being named the game’s Most Valuable Player to lead Team Black to a 83-80 victory over Team White in the Next 10 Game held at Saint Paul High School Tuesday.
“At the start everyone was trying to have fun getting used to playing with each other and then it started to get pretty competitive,” the Fort Erie resident said. “It was a very high scoring game. I even told everyone on the bench, let’s to win this. We’re not trying to lose.
“Even our chant was, ‘1,2,3 win.’ ”
Vernon enjoyed the experience.
“It feels really good. I was just trying to have fun out there,” he said. “I’ve been playing with a lot of those guys for a long time so it’s fun to play with people other than my teammates.”
Vernon had no idea he was in line to be selected for the game.
“Honestly, one of the players sent me a message that you’re on my team and then I checked my e-mail and in turned out I was playing,” he said. “I was pretty hyped.”
Vernon, who plans to attend either Brock or the University of Ottawa next season, looks back on his time with the Gryphons with fond memories.
“It was a lot fun. I started playing basketball in Grade 7 and I could feel my skill level get a lot better around Grade 11,” he said.
“I’m going to really miss it. It was like a brotherhood.”
Winning MVP honourable mention as the top player on Team White was Saint Michael’s Sahil Rizwan. The Grade 11 student was second on his team in scoring with 15 points.
The 16-year-old had a blast playing in his first all-star game.
“It was a lot of fun and it was a good experience to have this back after a while. I enjoyed it.”
He went into the game with no goals.
“I just wanted to have fun and go out and show what I can do.”
The 6-foot-4 player started playing basketball at the beginning of Grade 9 and also suits up in travel ball as a member of the Niagara Falls Red Raiders.
“I didn’t have the time to play during COVID because COVID took a really big hit out of things. But I started practising on my own at home because I had the height and stuff. I just thought it was a good fit for me.”
He liked the sport right away.
“It’s just playing and having fun with my friends and teammates and, of course, trying to win.”
He feels he is making up ground in the game despite his late start.
“I made the senior team at my school and I won a few (player of the game) MVPs, including the Tribune tournament.”
Team Black 83 Team White 80
Players of the Game: Team Black’s Isiah Vernon with 13 points.
For Team Black: West Niagara’s Jayden Khan 19; Denis Morris’ Campbell Hastings 16; Vernon 13; West Niagara’s Tyler Foster 11; Westlane’s Arnav Sharma 8; Westlane’s Strahinja Suzic 6; Saint Paul’s Nick Graovaz 4; St. Catharines Collegiate’s Colton Joyce 3; Niagara Christian’s Cedrik Yuk 2.
For Team White: Blessed Trinity’s Michael Akinpetide 22; Chima 15; A.N. Myer’s Tavish McMahon 12; Holy Cross’ Dwayne Osbourne 5; Centennial’s Timi Ijaodola 5; Holy Cross’ Lucas Moun 4; A.N. Myer’s Sahil Rizwan 4; Saint Michael’s Devon Devost 4; Blessed Trinity’s Caleb Olemide 4; and, Thorold’s Nathan Miller 3.
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