#1 Henry Carr VS #2 Eastern Commerce In Mark Walton Finals. Nolan Mackenzie Player Of The Day

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Tyler Stone Cram

Tyler Stone Cram

HAMILTON, ON–It’s one of the most competitive tournaments in the country, the 4th annual Mark Walton Invitational hosted by Cathedral, giving prospects at the high school level an ultimate opportunity to unveil their skills in front of the OUA’s coaching staff as well as a few visiting schools from outside of the province. Four out of the eight schools participating are NPH top 10 nationally ranked teams.

This tournament honours Mark Walton who is a legend at Cathedral and in the Canadian basketball landscape. A man that provided guidance and opportunity to student-athletes during his 27 years of coaching. Although he is no longer coaching, his passion for the game and it’s life lessons are all operating in this very competitive eight team tournament.

The Father Henry Carr Crusaders hold on to the #1 spot, followed by Eastern Commerce Saints at #2, Catholic Central Comets at #5 and Holy Trinity Titans at #10. FHC has beat Easter Commerce three times already this season, but the Saints look to end that streak and defend their title as Mark Walton Invitational Champions.

Head Coach of the Saints Kevin Jeffers expresses, “We lost three times this season and only to one team (Father Henry Carr). That leaves a sore spot for all of our guys. They have a little edge over us this season but we’re the defending champs and we have to go out there and play like it.”

This could be the last time these two teams will meet this season because of the Ontario teacher’s work to rule campaign which has left kids discouraged since their will be no extracurricular activities including sports during the campaign. Work to rule will be in effect as of this coming Monday.

Nolan Mackenzie

Nolan Mackenzie

Catholic Central has now lost two games against other squads from the top 10, including a loss to St. Michael’s in the Comets home tournament and an upset today against a well coached and multi-faceted Holy Trinity. The comets will need to get in check mentally and get together as a team to begin preparing for AAAA OFSAA which will be hosted in Windsor, Ontario.

Player of the Day

Nolan Mackenzie went on a rampage last night as the Titans went 1-1, losing to the Saints in their second and final game of the evening. His Titans will be facing host team Cathedral today at 1:10 for 3rd place.

Mackenzie has elevated his game many degrees, using his speed to blow by defenders and fit through tiny gaps while finishing strong at the rim. He’s also no stranger to the 3 ball as he showed in the first game, hitting 4 of 6.

One thing that coaches in attendance must have loved about him is his level of efficiency. He’s a pure PG with high IQ, good decision making, versatile scoring and is overall a strong leader and communicator. Moreover, he defends well with great lateral movement and active hands.

This lightning quick guard has moved up sevens spot from #47 ranked in 2013 to #40 with still room to climb.

Step Backs & Pull Ups

One of the most powerful skills a player can have is the ability to create space off the dribble. There are two players in this tournament that have gained a reputation doing this, James Sylvester (Eastern Commerce) and Trevon McNeil (Holy Trinity). A variation of step back and pull up jumpers forces the momentum of their defenders in opposite directions giving them a more high percentage shot while creating 3-5 feet of space.

Regardless of how good the defender is these two prospects cause match up problems because of this skill. Both guards are able to stop on a dime while fully accelerating. If you play them too close, they’ll blow by in the first step, if you play them with space they’ll knock down jumpers.

Most teams are enlightened with these facts and are starting to stray away from applying presses when Sylvester and McNeil are the primary ball handlers for their respective teams. Zone presses allow for too large of gaps which create situations where either can finish coast to coast.

Today’s championship game will have explosive guards on both ends and will be held at Cathedral in Hamilton at 2:45. It will be an uptempo game with even match-ups at most positions. Again, this could be the last time these two squads face up against each other, don’t miss out.

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