The Henry Carr Crusaders are fresh off a trip from British Columbia–the first out-of-province (non U.S) tournament in program history.
In their return to Ontario, the NPH #2-ranked team in the nation brought back the Snow Ball Classic championship, defeating the Sardis Falcons 74-55 in the finals, Burnaby South 105-46 and MEI 94-60–all teams viewed as Top 10-15 in the province.
It was a big deal on multiple levels.
From the national public’s standpoint, the Crusaders provided the country with perspective on the competition level, and desparity between the top teams in Ontario, and those in British Columbia.
With that being said, the upper echelon of teams in the province such as Walnut Grove, Tamanawis, Holy Cross and Winston Churchill did not have a crack at FHC.
For the Crusaders, the Snow Ball Classic allowed the program an opportunity to brand their name, among players, coaches and fans within BC.
“You’re not in this for notoriety, but you’re in this to maintain a program for several years, not just a one and done. People now know Henry Carr across Canada…its good for our school, it’s good for our community, and it’s good for our kids.”
Marcus Bonnick continues to produce for the Crusaders, building himself a strong resume over the season, while earning Snow Ball MVP award.
Ty Stewart-Nelson and Anthony McNish were named tournament all-stars along with strong contributions from senior lead guard Brandon Chevannes, but FHC Head Coach Paul Melnik stressed the collective defensive effort that was displayed over the weekend from his team.
“We had two major goals coming into this tournament–working on defensive concepts and developing more depth in the bench,” Melnik told NPH.
The aforementioned depth will come in handy on their pursuit for OFSAA provincial gold. That along with strong team chemistry.
“When you travel with your team and spend a lot of time through close quarters, there are ups and downs, the team bonding was huge,” explained Melnik, who believes the Crusaders are at about 65% of where they could be.
“Nothing happens over night, it’s about that linear growth. I think we can get a lot better,” he said.
There is great parity this season in the Ontario basketball scene, serving up intense battles at the top, and clear progress from teams in the middle of the pack. There is no such thing as a true “upset victory.”
Coach Melnik agrees.
“At any given day if you’re not playing your best, you could be going down…and that goes for everybody.”