Back On Top: Father Henry Carr Captures TDCAA Championship
Published by Gilbert Muako on February 28, 2011
For the past few years the Father Henry Carr Crusaders have been labeled as team that performs great during the season and crumbles once playoff time arrives. On Feb. 24, in front of a full Ryerson gym, the Crusaders played their way into a tough victory over an always talented Mother Teresa team out of Scarborough, a TDCAA championship win that will give Father Henry Carr their first OFSAA appearance in three years.
The Crusaders made a strong push early, ending the first quarter with a 28-16 lead. All due to the sensational performance from their 6-foot-5 forward Tre Boutilier who came out on fire scoring 12 points in the first frame, nailing a pair of threes and using his strong frame to clean up the boards for easy buckets. In addition, sophomore guard Kenrick Lewis was feeling his touch from outside.
“I really hoped for a great start,” Father Henry Carr head coach Paul Melnik said. “Naturally I felt we needed to play well early and put MT on their heels. During pre-game I talked about some previous teams, the 1986 Runnymede OFSAA Champions and the 2006 FHC Copper Medalists. We thought we were the better team but we needed to prove it. Tre and Kenrick provided the spark that fueled the fire by hitting so many threes. We also played very hard defensively.”
Putting a sloppy start behind, Mother Teresa regrouped by outscoring Carr 18-9 in the second quarter led by senior point guard Richie Kanza who completely took control, setting the tone and rallying his team back into the game. Kanza was fantastic hitting open looks, using his passing and court vision to find teammates for easy buckets he exploded for 11 points in the quarter. 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Deshaun Williams also made his presence felt with his slashing game and Adika Peter-McNeilly’s shooting helped cut Carr’s lead tremendously, closing first half play with the score 37-34.
“I really love Ritchie Kanza, he plays the game like his coach coaches the game: the right way, with intensity and class,” Melnik said. “Ritchie has the heart of a lion, he’s very talented and works very hard — what a great combination. Adika Peter-McNeily and Deshaun Williams rounded out the trio that led MT in that comeback. Great players that play the game well but do it the right way.”
The Titans kept it close throughout the third quarter and were only down by three points in early fourth period action. During that stretch the Crusaders struggled a bit but their most productive player, Boutilier, kept his high-level play rolling with tough rebounding and finishes around the basket.
“Tre is so multi-talented,” Melnik said. “His perimeter game is improving by the minute, he plays with swag and I think his confidence was instrumental in our great start. He shot the ball incredibly well and that gave us the momentum. His rebounding and tough play near the basket made him a difficult player for MT to handle.”
With just under a minute left, Henry Carr was in the bonus and would shoot free throws to secure a 65-58 win. Boutilier scored a game high 24points, Deshaun Williams and Adika Peter-McNeilly dropped 18 for Mother Tresa and Richie Kanza added 17points.
“I don’t think words can describe how it feels” Melnik, who won three TDCAA championships consecutively (2006, 2007, 2008) in the past, said. “Then MT won two in a row and it was time for redemption. Missed opportunities, losing so many wonderful student-athletes to prep basketball can either destroy a coach or motivate a coach and I have too much pride in our school, our student-athletes and the program we have built for me to give up, so we worked harder.”
Melnik is ready for the big prize as his team enters 4A OFSAA next week and truly believe they have what it takes to come out on top.
“I have really come to love this team on and off the court,” the coach said. “They are special and this year we’ve struggled, we didn’t hit our stride until February. They’ve worked so hard and they were willing to believe in the system. It took time for them to believe in the team, to trust each other and to trust me. This team is ready to conquer OFSAA. There are so many great teams with great coaches and we respect them immensely for that, however, that will only fuel our preparation, that and the ghosts of past missed opportunities.”