Oakwood Barons Secure Right To Defend OFSAA Title
Published by Michael Henry on February 26, 2011
On February 24, 2011, the Oakwood Barons earned the right to defend their OFSAA crown by deniying Eastern Commerce from achieving their fifth straight senior Toronto City basketball championship. Oakwood Barons claimed the TDSSAA, Toronto City Championships with a 54-46 overtime victory.
The University of Toronto – Sports Gym was the venue where Eastern Commerce got off to a very quick start. Early in the game, speedy Saints Guard, James Sylvester caused big matchup problems for the Barons as he was getting the job done both inside and out. Sylvester did not shy away from driving to the cup or after being given too much space, draining a 3-pointer. His play, coupled with a big dunk by Saints’ 6’4″ Forward, Aaron Best, kept the the Eastern Commerce fans happy. It was that energy that the Saints’ fed off of as they closed out the quarter on a 14-2 run, that saw that them end of the first quarter up 18-6. “That early lead was definitely a part of our strategy and something we really needed” said Saint’s Coach Jeffers. In trying to control the pace of the game, he went on to mention “we really wanted jump ahead cause we know we’d have to deal with their bench.”
The Oakwood Barons may have been stunned early, but Coach Miller promptly recognized that he had to do something about it. When asked about the immediate onset of emotions of his squad, he said “The mood was frantic. We’re a young team and they gave us a punch right off the bat.” So, in order to calm his team down, Baron Coach Miller reasoned with his team over a series of time outs. “The main thing that we kept on saying was no one is going to win this game in the first quarter. We’re just gonna have to weather the storm.” Signs that the talks seemed to work, started to show in the second quarter as Oakwood’s Captain, Sheldon Moore finally made it to the score sheet hitting two 3-pointers as well as the team’s scoring leader, Kevin Blake, hitting from downtown. The Barons managed to bring the margin down to as low as 8 points approaching the end of the first half before Eastern managed a bit more breathing room, going into the locker room up 33-21 at half time.
But, there was a certain feel of the momentum shifting.
Oakwood’s Coach Anthony stuck to the game plan into the second half. “We did talk about our defense and how we had to play through our defense, the main thing was to calm down”, he said. And his team responded outscoring Eastern 13-5 in the third quarter, virtually erasing the early lead the Saints had amassed. Perhaps the pace of the game started to affect the Saints who only dressed seven players, as they only managed to connect on one field goal in the third quarter. All while the Barons were feeding off of strong post play by second year player, 6’5″, Tyrell Bellot-Green and third year, 6’6″, player Isaiah Watkins and hustle plays such as a tough and-1 play that dropped for Xzennis Brereton which, at the time, closed the gap to 36-30.
It was more of the same throughout the fourth quarter as well, which was made even more critical for the Saints when a couple of their players ran into foul trouble. The Saints’ captain, Aaron Best, continued to rally his team connecting on an alley-oop dunk, which again, represented their only field goal of the quarter. With three minutes left in the game, Oakwood’s Kevin Blake used every bit of his 6’3″ frame to draw the foul, which he used to cap off the full comeback. He hit both of his free throws to tie things up at 42. And after some extended, unsuccessful possessions by both teams, including a pretty good look by the Saints in their last possession, we were off to overtime, knotted at 42.
In Overtime, it was pretty much all Barons. Their energy level was really an asset on both ends of the floor being able to jump in front of passes on defense and drive the lane at the other end. All of their driving found them rewarded as they used the foul line as their best friend. In the fourth quarter and overtime, they were a nice 12-18, which ultimately was the difference.
Although its a tough defeat, all is not lost for the Saints. They are still eligible to qualify for the OFSAA provincial high school championships via the ‘back door’ game. They will play the Laurier Blue Devils who lost to Oakwood in the semis on February 22. The ‘back door’ game is scheduled for February 25.
So what’s next for the Oakwood Barons as they look forward to trying to repeat as they best team in Ontario High School basketball? Coach Miller wants his team to take some time out to relish what they’ve accomplished so far. “The main thing is to let them enjoy winning the city championships. Let them enjoy tonight and into the weekend” With that in mind, Coach Miller realizes there may be some minor tweaking to be done before they play again for all of the marbles at OFSSA beginning March 7. “Us coaches, we’ll sit down and formulate a plan. The main plan is to get better at what we do. All the teams at OFSAA are all good teams, they know the things that they do well, we gotta get better at what we do especially defensively.”
Eastern Commerce Saints Notable Stats:
James Sylvester: 13 points
Aaron Best: 12 points
Oakwood Barons Notable Stats:
Kevin Blake: 14 points
Xzennis Brereton: 10 points