Sault Ste. Marie–The Bill Crothers Colts are building themselves an extensive team resume over the course of the season, with quality victories over both American and Canadian competition.
In Sault Ste. Marie (Northern Ontario), the Colts have added the Guy Vetrie tournament championship to their trophy case. BCSS out of Markham defeated Mississauga’s Clarkson Secondary 69-61, lead by tournament MVP Jamal Thomas’ game-high 29 points.
“I’m really excited, this is my first one [MVP]…what can I say,” paused Thomas. “It’s an unbelievable feeling, that we actually finished and we did exactly what our coach wanted us to do, which was come out on top and show everybody how hard we’re working.”
Bill Crothers Head Coach Charles Hantoumakos, who has been preaching unity all season to his team, spoke about what Thomas means to the Colts.
“He brings it every game, he’s been our most consistent guy all year, and the team is proud of him…definitely a big moment for him.”
Never too high, never too low, right in the middle.
We’ve talked about the importance of composure before, and after watching Thomas throughout the tournament, it became clear that the 6’2 scoring guard embodies this trait.
No matter the situation, Thomas feels no need for a celebration; whether he’s driving the lane for an emphatic jam or hitting a clutch three-pointer, the facial expression of the Pensacola State (JUCO) Commit remains neutral.
“For me it’s not about getting amped about what happened, it’s more about the win,” Thomas told NPH. Simply put, he’s a gamer.
For Clarkson, Jameel Brown (2014 6’4 SG) came alive in the second half to help his team hang around, scoring 20 of his team-high 23 points in the third and fourth quarters. Brown hit multiple difficult shots off the bounce, including a fade away three in the fourth to make things interesting down the stretch.
On the flip side, the Colts proved to be possibly the deepest team I’ve seen all year, consistently racking up victories with multiple contributors. In the Guy Vetrie championship game, three players hit double figures.
With star lead guard Trae Bell-Haynes out of the line up (ankle), Rashawn Browne (12 points) stepped up, spoon-feeding his teammates for easy buckets, and constantly beat defenders off the dribble to make a play, while defending at a high level. I did not see anyone all tournament that was able to stay in front of Browne; when he makes up his mind to attack, he’s going to get into the lane and cause havoc.
6’6 Nick McKee, who we’ve seen evolve over the year due to his strong work ethic, came off the bench to add 12 points, and a couple sweet assists–establishing himself as one of the best passers in the class of 2016. McKee stepped up, as Gavin Pearce (Crothers defensive stopper) was in foul trouble.
As I learned more about the Bill Crothers program over the weekend, I’ve come to the realization that the Colts represent everything that basketball should be about through their actions–discipline, accountability, family, leadership and development.
Congratulations to BCSS on a well-deserved Guy Vetrie championships title.
Guy Vetrie Tournament Awards
- Rashawn Browne (Bill Crothers)
- Khali Johnson (Clarkson)
- Gavin Pearce (Bill Crothers)
- Jordan McDonald (Clarkson)
- Oman Sillah (Clarkson)
- Rontez Allen-Shabazz (Still Water)
White Pines Takes Junior Guy Vetrie Gold
Two local teams from “The Soo” duked it out in front of a packed house, as White Pines defeated St Basil’s 46-44 for the Guy Vetrie junior championship. Tristan Olar registered a game-high 20 points in the victory for White Pines.
“It was definitely an exciting game, both teams had their opportunities to win it and White Pine capitalized late…gave the crowd a game to remember,” explained tournament convenor Jeff Giovanatti.
The junior division of the Guy Vetrie is only in it’s second year of existence, however the tournament organizers are welcoming elite competition from the Greater Toronto Area.
“We want to continue to increase the talent level in the tournament,” continued Giovanatti. This year, with Bill Crothers in the senior division, it gave local teams a chance to see where they measure up, against arguably the top team in the country.
“If we’re going to continue to raise the talent level in the region, you have to get a bench mark of where you stand. Sometimes being in your own bubble doesn’t allow to gain a realistic sense of where you are.”
Building the game in the North
“We have to inform ourselves, and be at our best as coaches because we’re those role models. We have to put in some programs, some developmental pathways for the kids. Basketball is drawing more interest form parents and kids.”
“I think the junior finals was an indication of the talent, because that was a great game.”
Special Thanks to Jeff Giovanatti, the Guy Vetrie tournament staff and the Sault Ste. Marie basketball community for welcoming @NorthPoleHoops with great hospitality; a top-notch tournament that will surely continue to grow moving forward.