Ross to face defending champs in D10 hoops finals

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – In a game that displayed everything great about the local District 10 high school senior boys’ basketball league, the Ross Royals scored their second road victory of the week Thursday to gain a berth in Saturday night’s championship match.

The Royals, fifth-place finishers at the completion of the regular season, squeezed by the second-place St. James Lions 57-54.

The game was played in front of a boisterous, but respectful crowd that was relatively evenly split between Ross and St. James supporters.

“In Hamilton, it’s so much different,” said leading scorer Khaled Djabo of Ross. He transferred to Ross in time for the 2016-17 season. “In Hamilton, people would be fighting minutes after the game. People there don’t like to lose and here you don’t see a lot of that.”

It’s not that the players in D10 like to lose, most of them just accept the losses graciously. They’re not happy about it, but losing is as much of a game as winning.

Thursday’s match featured a battle between the league’s two big men, Matt Sanvido of the Lions and Sebastian Perizzolo-Furminger of the Royals.

“It was a really great battle,” Ross coach Bill Price said. “Our guy’s a little bit younger and I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. I think he stood up strong. Both of them did great. Matt made some big dunks and stuff like that – put-backs. Our guy challenged him and I think he’s the only one in the league that really can that way. I was glad to see both of them play well. It’s better than one playing bad and one playing well. They both played well. Nobody can complain.”

St. James held the early lead as they were up 13-10 after the first quarter and 28-21 at halftime before the Royals turned up their tempo for the second half.

“We went in there and I told my team we just needed to pick up our heads and just play tough,” Djabo said. “That’s it and that’s what we do. We play our best game second half and that’s what we did today.”

“It was more of a talk of where we were at, explaining that it was 7-0 and that was all,” Price said. “For us it was like ‘Let’s score.’ We’re not going to get anywhere if we don’t score. It was too low a scoring game for us. We need to run and we want to and that was our focus. Let’s go. We had nothing to lose and they had everything to lose and I said that a lot of times.”

The Royals responded and led 41-40 at the end of the third quarter.

After beating the Guelph CVI Green Gaels in Tuesday’s quarter-finals, the Royals thought they’d be playing the first-place Centre Wellington Falcons in the semifinals. However, that changed when the sixth-place Lourdes Crusaders upset the third-place Centennial Spartans in the quarter-finals. When that happened, the Royals were paired against the Lions and Lourdes had to go to Fergus.

“We expected a tough game,” Price said of the match with St. James. “We prepared, but we didn’t have much time to prepare because of the rearrangement of things when you think you’re going to get somebody else. But we did some preparation work. In the last two games we’ve been coming together and we’re playing the way I thought we should play and that puts other teams in a tough spot. It was a good game.”

Djabo scored a game-high 31 points to lead Ross while Zaid Karsiem had 14 and Perizzolo-Furminger added seven.

“Khaled’s been our leader on the court,” Price said. “He’s learning the game – he knows the game, but we’ve been working on things to look for and that sort of thing. If he plays at the next level, he’ll need those things and it’s starting to work for him. He’s starting to feel things in the offence that he didn’t in the first half of the season. He plays a lot of off-wing and all over the place. Whatever we need.”

Sanvido had 16 points for St. James while Alex Garbuio netted 14 and Joel Tersigni had 12.

Despite their loss, the Lions advance to the CWOSSA AA tournament at Simcoe Feb. 23 and 24.

Ross moves on to Saturday’s D10 final against defending champion Centre Wellington. The Falcons disposed of Lourdes 65-45 in the semifinals Thursday at Fergus.

Cole Newton led Centre Wellington with 23 points while Brock Newton, Keenen Lochert and Zach Cudmore each had 11.

Geeth Kenneth had 16 for Lourdes and Isaac Krueger netted eight.

The Falcons had finished the regular season in first at 13-1 while Lourdes was sixth at 4-10.

Centre Wellington and Ross are to meet in the league final Saturday at 8 p.m. at the GGAC. The Falcons swept the regular-season series with the Royals, winning 55-44 at Ross Dec. 19 and 75-47 at home Feb. 8.

“We’ve got to play smart defence. We’ve got to play hard and keep our heads in the game,” Djabo said. “We can’t let them get into our heads.”

 

JUNIOR

Saturday’s junior final will feature the defending champion Lourdes Crusaders against the Ross Royals after both scored semifinal victories Thursday.

Third-place Lourdes (10-4) knocked off second-place Orangeville Bears (12-2) while first-place Ross (13-1) ousted fourth-place Centennial Spartans (8-6).

Lourdes defeated Orangeville 75-70.

Kevin Martinez led the Crusaders with 32 points while Sebastian Porcellato had 23.

Rowan Steele had 30 for Orangeville and Brandon Hughes netted 13.

Ross edged Centennial 60-56 in double overtime.

Cole Miller hit for 33 points for Ross while Carter Wesley and Bryce Sukhdeo each had seven.

Jackson Davidson had 17 for Centennial while Jackson Wallace had 14 and Luka Vukoje had 11.

Ross defeated Lourdes twice during the regular season, winning 76-67 at home Dec. 14 and 37-26 at Lourdes Feb. 6.

The junior championship combatants have clinched berths in CWOSSA tournaments. Ross is to play in the AAA tournament Feb. 23 and 24 at Cambridge, the same days the Crusaders are to compete in the AA tournament at Simcoe.