Centennial Spartans seniors capture Heslip tourney title
GUELPH – It was fitting that Cameron Powell should sink the winning baskets of the championship game of the first Tom Heslip Memorial Basketball Tournament for high school senior boys’ teams Saturday night at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre.
“Just working as a team we got the ball around to everybody on the court,” Powell said of Centennial’s play in what was likely his best high school hoops outing. “We took good shots and we were getting wide open shots in the corner on the fast break.”
“He was awesome,” Centennial coach Rob Conroy said of Powell’s performance. “He’s so fit and he’s worked so hard in the off-season so it’s nice to see that pay off.
“He’s worked so hard. He was the only one with anything left in the tank and when we called on him, he answered.”
Powell’s successful jump shot and subsequent free throw with three seconds to play gave the Centennial Spartans a 67-65 victory over the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves of Hamilton and cemented Powell’s award as the tournament MVP.
Actually, Centennial secured the win when they stole the ball on the throw-in from midcourt after the Braves took a timeout following Powell’s free throw basket.
The action in the dying seconds completed a thrilling final that saw the teams trade the lead in the game’s final minute. The Hamilton squad rallied from an eight-point deficit at halftime, but didn’t go ahead until sinking a foul shot with 15 seconds to play and that set the stage for Powell’s winning baskets.
The visitors had led 19-17 at the end of the first quarter before the Spartans rallied to grab a 34-26 lead at halftime. That advantage was down to 46-44 after the third quarter.
The championship combatants were a weary bunch as it was the third game of the day for both teams and both had also played twice Friday. The teams completed round-robin pool play Saturday morning and followed that with the mid-afternoon semifinals.
“We were tired and they were probably tired, too,” Powell said. “We just ran them and we got the ball more into them.”
“We played five games and we got better with each game,” Conroy said. “Our ultimate goal is District 10, but we’re taking it day by day.”
Powell led the Spartans with 34 points, 14 on foul shots. Jackson Wallace followed with 10 while Jake Warywoda had nine and Kai Clarke added seven.
Powell’s shooting during the game changed from first half to second. In the opening half he worked more under the basket and drew several fouls while he worked more from the outside in the second half.
“In the second half I tried to spread out the floor more on the three-point line and let some other guys get some points, too, as they changed up the defence a bit,” he said.
Daniel Graham had 19 for St. Jean de Brebeuf to be his team’s player-of-the-game while Cale Calura had 17, Ares Cully-Bremner 11 and Markell Dell and Tyler Guppy seven apiece.
Centennial leads the District 10 senior league at 5-1 and St. Jean de Brebeuf is second in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior league at 4-1. That the Spartans hung tough and defeated a team from Hamilton points to how strong the D10 league is this season.
“There are so many good teams and parity seems to have set in. There are no easy nights,” Conroy said. “I guess that’s why we did well in the tournament because we’re getting it every game and when it came time in the tournament, we played well.
“(D10’s CWOSSA representatives) are going to benefit from it. Hopefully it’s us.”
While Powell was the tournament MVP, teammate Hadi El-Miari was voted to the tournament all-star team along with Graham of the Braves, Brandon Powell of the Centre Dufferin Royals, Ryan Heim of the Orillia Nighthawks and Chris Sagl of the St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders of Oakville.
The Spartans gained their berth in the final as they rallied for a 54-51 win over Orillia in the semifinals. Centennial trailed 15-9 at the end of the first quarter, 27-22 at halftime and 45-35 after the third quarter.
El-Miari and Powell each had 12 points in the semifinal while Clarke had nine, Warywoda eight and Wallace seven.
The Spartans lead the District 10 senior league at 5-1. They’ll complete the 2018 portion of their schedule this week with home games against the Guelph CVI Green Gaels (2-4) Tuesday and Bishop Macdonell Celtics (0-5) Wednesday.
“My season’s been going good,” Powell said of his D10 campaign. “I’d like to look a bit more to pass, instead of the bad shots. (I’d like to) look for my teammates a bit more on the fast break and stuff like that.”
“We’ve got a great group of kids,” Conroy said. “They’re coachable and they work very hard just trying to get better with each game.”
St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (Oakville) 67 Lo-Ellen Park Knights 48
Ross Royals 45 Barrie North Vikings 35
St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves 60 Centre Dufferin Royals 39
Innisdale Invaders 81 Orangeville Bears 46
Centennial Spartans 58 St. Thomas Aquinas Stingers (Tottenham) 43
Notre Dame Fighting Irish 53 Patrick Fogarty Flames 45
Centre Wellington Falcons 69 Delta Red Raiders 42
Orillia Nighthawks 59 Kitchener-Waterloo (KCI) Raiders 36
Centre Dufferin Royals 67 Ross Royals 55
Centre Wellington Falcons 54 St. Thomas Aquinas Stingers (Tottenham) 40
Barrie North Vikings 49 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 41
Kitchener-Waterloo (KCI) Raiders 46 Patrick Fogarty Flames 34
Ross Royals 61 Delta Red Raiders 33
Innisdale Invaders 75 Lo-Ellen Park Knights 65
Centennial Spartans 54 Orillia Nighthawks 51
St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves 73 St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders (Oakville) 66
Centennial Spartans 67 St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves 65
- Guelph Sports Journal