HAMILTON, ON–For the eighth time in the 43-year history of the Teachers Life Silver Fox Invitational, the #3 nationally ranked Oakwood Barons have captured the championship; this time over Thornlea by a score of 61-49 in an entertaining back and forth final. Oakwood bulldozed through competition in the rounds leading up to the finals, but it took them four quarters to put away Thornlea for good.
Graduating and uncommitted power forward of the Barons, Brody Clarke left Hamilton clinching MVP honours after a 22-point performance in the finals. He is the third person from the Clarke family to be named MVP; after father and assistant coach of the Barons Norm, and brother Julian.
His strength in the interior was too much to handle for Thornlea big man Marvin Ngonadi, as he positioned himself in the low post for entry passes which he converted into buckets.
Thornlea continued to show that they were playing their best basketball of the year by keeping this one within reach until midway through the fourth quarter. Kadeem Smithen was once again their leader in scoring with 19 and created much of the offense for his team. His production, tight handle and series of offensive moves makes him the craftiest player in the tournament and a First Team All-Star. Cameron Crieghtney of Thornlea was also named First Team All-Star at the Fox. Crieghtney’s defensive efforts put a lot of pressure on ball handlers and made decisions tough.
For most possessions, Smithen was guarded by an intense and active D’wan Williams. Williams did a good job staying in front of Smithen until he started getting caught in screens or being forced to switch. Smithen’s ability to create off the dribble gave Thornlea a chance at sticking around.
Ngonadi did not have the affect on the game that we thought he would have and that can be attributed to Clarke not allowing him to catch and secure position in the high and low post.
Calvin Epistola would hit some timely trey balls and cleaned up at the charity stripe to secure a strong lead. Epistola has continued to be the most consistent and efficient player on this team and makes an impact in so many ways.
The Barons continued to let off bombs from all over the perimeter as each of the starters made one in the second half. MVP Brody Clarke stepped up and showed an extended shooting range, where he connected twice from long distance on just two attempts in the second half.
Oakwood did a good job clutching on to the lead and ensuring that Thornlea doesn’t have a surge of momentum. They slowed down the game in the final minutes and forced Thornlea to foul them and take it to the charity stripe.
The next time that these two teams meet is unknown as the only time left is the possibility of bumping into one another at OFSAA, considering both teams make it.
Merivale Earns Respect
Action from the 3rd place game featured Ottawa’s surprise in Merivale who defeated two ranked opponents in this tournament, both Father Henry Carr and Pine Ridge in the bronze medal game. They had a strong outing and had multiple players contribute in their wins. The only game that they lost in this tournament was to gold medal finalists Thornlea who created multiple mismatches.
This is a team that proved they can knock down the three with consistency, but their strength was also their weakness at times as they live and die by the three ball. Marwan Saeed was on fire in the bronze medal game along with Kevin Metelus who combined for 30 points. Once they learn to open up the floor and get scoring opportunities around the basket they will be a much stronger team.
A city battle will take place this Tuesday in Ottawa as Merivale takes on Immaculata, both hoping to snap each others regular season perfect records of 8-0.
Special Thank You
A special thanks goes out to Jim Weatherbee and the Teachers Life Silver Fox committee for the organization of this first class high school event. The @NorthPoleHoops team looks forward to being back annually, to one of the top high school tournaments in the country!
Brody Clarke – Oakwood (Toronto)
1st Team All Stars
Shymar Brewster – Merivale (Ottawa)
Calvin Epistola – Oakwood (Toronto)
Cameron Crieghtney – Thornlea (Thornhill)
Kadeem Smithen – Thornlea (Thornhill)
2nd Team All Stars
Brandon Chevannes – Father Henry Carr (Etobicoke)
Shamiel Stevenson – Holy Trinity (Oakville)
Umed Hyderi – Merivale (Ottawa)
Jordan Henry – Pine Ridge (Pickering)
Chase Vassell – Pine Ridge (Pickering)
Tournament Director Defensive Player
Russell Baker of Oakwood (Toronto)
Hamilton Spectator 3 point shooting
Tesloth Simon of St. Mary’s (Kitchener) with 32
Bob Knuckle Academic Award supported by Teacher’s Life Society
Nicholas Lapore of St. Thomas More (Hamilton) with a 97.3% average
Ron Kovljenic Fair Play Award
Jordan Sobot of Nelson (Burlington)