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OFSAA 3A Championship Day Recap And Standouts

Published by on March 11, 2011

The stars collided on day three of the OFSAA triple A championships. The crowd was treated to one of the more competitive finals in recent history when the number one ranked Anderson narrowly defeated the number two ranked Denison. Anderson’s Justin Edwards and Denison’s Kevin Pangos played the last game of their illustrious high school careers in front of a capacity crowd at St. Paul’s high school in Niagara. Anderson prevailed in the finals led by Edwards and DyShawn Pierre. Anderson swept aside Hillcrest and Denison crushed Herman to reach the finals.

Semi-Final #1: Anderson (1) def. Hillcrest (4): 78-52
Just 12 hours removed from their roller coaster quarter-final victory last night Hillcrest had nothing left in the tank, they overwhelmed, outclassed and over matched by Anderson. The first quarter was close due to Hillcrest being able to limit DyShawn Pierre’s touches, but then Anderson put together the best quarter of basketball played all tournament long. Defensively, Anderson forced Hillcrest’s smaller guards into long contested jumpers; and offensively Hillcrest could not do anything to slow down the 1-2 punch of Pierre and Edwards. The second half was more of the same as Anderson continued converting Hillcrest’ long rebounds into easy fast-break points; Anderson’s lead just kept growing and growing. The lone bright spot for Hillcrest was their guard Emad Abdelmagid putting up 17 points in a losing effort.
Standouts: Pierre and Edwards combined for 62 of Anderson’s 78 points. It was clear from the start that Edwards had the mismatch against Hillcrest’ guards and he exploited it: his athleticism advantage over them was most prevalent in his ability to get his own rebound after a miss over and over.

Semi-Final #2: Denison (2) def. Herman (6): 80-51
This game was decided in a blink of an eye. Denison opened the game on a 10-0 run, and there was still 6:30 left to go in the first quarter. To their credit Herman fought back, relying on their long ball. But every time Herman could go on a mini-run, Kevin Pangos would come back at the other end and make a play to steer the ship back in the right direction. Herman’s athleticism advantage was negated by Denison’s excellent team defence. In the second quarter Denison decided to put it away, officially. In an encore performance of their 10-0 run to start the game, Denison scored 20 straight points after Herman scored the first five points of the quarter. The only thing that went wrong for Denison on the afternoon was when Brayden Gohn missed a fancy reverse jam on the breakaway. Mark Perrone, Denison’s other starting guard, suffered a wrist injury early in the game but he said he would be ready to go for the finals.
Standouts: Brett Zufelt of Denison…he’s really Denison’s glue-guy. His uncanny ability to take charges, rebound the basketball and do the little things is a big reason Denison is going to the finals. Another big reason Denison is going to the finals is Kevin Pangos, who recorded 23 points and nine assists, he was in complete control of this game on both ends of the floor. This game was Kevin Pangos at his best, Herman would send double teams all over the floor at Pangos but that just made things easier for Pangos’ teammates because he’s so unselfish. Don’t let his assists numbers deceive you, Pangos set up way more than nine buckets, many of them were just hockey assists out of a double team. Up to this point in the tournament, Kevin Pangos and his Denison team looked unstoppable.

Bronze Medal Game: Herman (6) def. Hillcrest (4): 70-66
The bronze medal game was decided by two teams that are carbon copies of each other: they’re both led by speedy guards and they both get up a lot of three-pointers. The third place game was any observer’s dream because of it’s helter-skelter pace of play. Hillcrest led the game 35-32 at halftime. In the second half, Herman’s Antoine Chandler took over. Hillcrest was unable to stop his penetration to the hoop, and on the occasions that they were able to contain him, Chandler either drew the foul or finished over the defence. Chandler had 31 points in the game (22 in the second half) and got to the line 11 times.
Standouts: Emad Adbelmagid of Hillcrest…he splashed seven three-pointers in a losing effort. Adbelmagid is a streaky shooter who showed he has the ability to get red-hot.

2011 OFSAA 3A Championship Finals: Anderson (1) def. Denison (2): 69-54
First Half: This was the matchup everyone wanted to see, and these two teams showed why they’re the top seeds in the tournament. Both Pangos and Edwards had extremely efficient starts to the game. Denison executed well as usual and Anderson countered by pounding it inside to Pierre, who finished with a game-high 26 points. Unhappy with how the 6’5 Pierre was getting everything he wanted, the 6’2 Pangos took it upon himself to guard the big man. For the first time all tournament, Pangos was visibly frustrated by Anderson; his team mates weren’t hitting open looks and he wasn’t having the greatest offensive half himself. He told me after the game he re-injured the thumb on his shooting hand while high-fiving his teammate. “Adrenaline carried me through,” said Pangos. Anderson led 38-35 at the half.

Second Half:  Within the first few minutes of the second half, Brett Zufelt drew a charge on Justin Edwards, Edwards headed to the bench with his fourth foul. With one half of their dynamic duo glued to the bench due to foul trouble, Pierre had to shoulder even more of the scoring load; with Pangos in his face and his offence looking stagnant, Pierre stepped back and hit a three, putting Anderson up 45-40. On the next possession, the ball was swung to Jacob Hutchcroft, who hit a contested three in the corner, opening up an eight-point lead. In a game where the stars cancelled each other out, the championship was decided by which team’s role players would step up. After a semi-final where he shot poorly, Hutchcroft stepped up in a big way, showing no fear to hit the big shots and even baiting Pangos into an offensive foul. “With one of our key players in foul trouble, I thought that I could take my game to the next level by attacking and scoring” said Hutchcroft. “I took my shot when it was there…I thought one bad game wouldn’t lead to the next so I kept shooting.” Hutchcroft finished the game with 12 points, 9 of them coming in the second-half. Anderson’s lead remained in tact albeit Edwards’ foul trouble, in attempt to get Denison back into it Pangos passed the ball less and took matters into his own hands. “Obviously it’s harder to find a way to score, it’s harder to find a play that will work because their defence is pretty solid,” said Pangos. When Edwards eventually returned mid-way through the fourth, his presence was immediately felt. He disrupted Denison’s passing lanes and with 1:50 left in the game his tip-in was the nail in the coffin, extending Anderson’s lead to 64-57. Denison can only wonder if their role players showed up, would the final result be different. Brayden Gohn and Brett Zufelt were invisible for much of the game when Pangos needed a helping hand.

Final thoughts: Edwards was ecstatic to get the monkey off his back, after Anderson had been eliminated in the quarter-finals in the past two years. “It feels good, we’ve been working for this for five years and it finally paid off,” said Edwards. “This was more challenging (than the Jarvis game) because of the way the refs were calling the game was somewhat uneven but we played through it.” Edwards plans to make his decision for post-secondary basketball in the next month or so. In his final high-school game, Justin Edwards is finally a champion.

On the other end of the gym with a blank expression on his face was Kevin Pangos, who finishes his high-school career without any hardware. Regardless of the result, Pangos is extremely proud of how far Denison’s basketball program has come from where it was: “it’s an honour, it’s been a process…to end like this, even though it is second,” said Pangos. “It’ still great knowing that Denison has never had a basketball team like this in it’s history so it’s a great feeling.” Unlike Edwards, Pangos has already signed his letter of intent to the University of Gonzaga for next year. We wish Kevin the best as he continues his auspicious career. Regardless of what the result was on Wednesday night, Ontario basketball won’t forget Kevin Pangos, Justin Edwards and Dyshawn Pierre for a long long time Congratulations to Anderson for taking home the OFSAA triple A crown this year!

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