Walker dynamite for Thorold
Isaac Walker’s hot shooting has led the Thorold Golden Eagles all the way to the consolation finals of the 59th Annual Standard Kully’s Boys High School Basketball Tournament.
The Grade 12 student scored 20 points Thursday at Ridley College to lead his team to a 47-46 victory over the Smithville Christian Storm in semifinal action. Walker came into the game leading the tournament in scoring and is now averaging 24.7 points per game in the event.
“He transferred in from Centennial and as soon as he came out we saw that he was a special athlete. He has this inner motor, he is very aggressive and he just has this love for basketball,” Thorold head coach Marc Dupont said. “Last year he was a little more raw but he really worked on his game and his post moves and he knows how to get the ball to the basket. He just has a nose for it.”
Most of all Dupont, likes Walker’s attitude.
“And not just in basketball. In school, he has a really nice, engaging personality. He is friendly, he is sociable and he is a great kid. I am fortunate to get an opportunity to coach someone like him.”
Surprisingly, the 17-year-old Thorold resident is playing travel basketball for the first time this season with the Pelham Panthers.
“I saw that I was pretty good and some of my teammates said I was outstanding so I decided to try out for travel this year,” the 6-foot-5 forward said. “I have no idea why I decided to do it. Just watching the best players gave me the passion to play.”
Walker is his own harshest critic when it comes to basketball.
“I usually just get mad at myself because I keep missing shots. I use that as motivation.”
He was upset at missing two late free throws in the game that might have sealed the deal earlier for Thorold.
“I am kicking myself every day so I can get better.”
He is a having a fun time playing in his first Standard tourney.
“I love it. It is a great tournament.”
Smithville jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the semifinal but Thorold netted 22 straight points to built a lead that the Storm tried to chase down all game. Smithville did manage to fight back and cut a 41-34 Thorold lead at the start of the fourth quarter to 47-46 in the dying seconds. A desperation three by Smithville’s Jeremy Talsma spun in and out of the basket at the buzzer to allow the Golden Eagles to escape with the win.
“We started pressing them and they looked really polished in their press break so we pulled that off. We wanted to see how well they could shoot and we sat in a zone for a long time,” Dupont said. “It worked in the first half and in the second half they made some adjustments and started to creep back into it. The nerves got to us a little at the end but we never quit, we kept out heads in the game and got the job done.”
Smithville Christian coach Zion Hoeskstra was pleased with his team’s performance Thursday.
“It was a very exciting game. It was the best one of the season for us,” he said. “We made a bunch of threes down the stretch but we need to finish our twos.”
He agreed the 22-0 Thorold run was the deciding factor in the game.
“We gave them the game after those seven points. We have a lot of inexperience on this team and no practices yet but I was proud of the end result.”
Thorold will go into Friday night looking for its first Standard consolation title since 2010. Dupont remembers it well because he was coaching West Park in the game against a Thorold team coached by John Kwiatkowski and Duane Kemp.
Golden Eagles 47 Storm 46
Kully’s/Regatta Sports Players of the Game: Thorold’s Nathan Miller and Smithville’s Jeremy Talsma.
For the Thorold Golden Eagles: Isaac Walker 20; Miller 10; Spencer Fluellon 4; Hunter Fluellon 4; Nick Wuhlar 3; Ryan Kelly 2.
For the Smithville Christian Storm: Talsma 20; Silas Breukelman 8; Matthew Mafa 7; Kalan Schat; Joseph Attia 5.
Up next: Thorold advances to the consolation final Friday at 5:30 p.m. at St. Catharines Collegiate.