Never sleep on Eastern Commerce, a lesson learned on day one of the Father Henry Carr Early Bird.
The EC Saints proved that toughness, discipline and hunger outweigh talent on any given night, starting off with a 2-0 record with victories over DYouville (NPH #3-Ranked) and St Mary’s, the pre-season #1-ranked team in the nation.
Pre-season rankings are to be taken with a grain of salt as the play on the floor should and will dicate where each team stands. That being said, there’s no doubt that pressure was put on St Mary’s and conversely, Eastern Commerce came out with a point to prove.
CIS,NCAA and CCAA coaches filled spots in the bleachers to take in the action and get an early look at their recruiting targets for this year and years to come.
Representation from the University of Toronto, Nipissing, Laurier and Humber represented the Canadian post-secondary programs. From the NCAA, DI programs; American University, Western Michigan and Central Michigan all made the trip on day one.
Many of the teams that compete in this tournament annually, often go on to be OFSAA contenders; however for many of the teams, they were far from looking the part.
Never Sleep on Eastern Commerce
Last season the EC Saints roster had much more of a post presence, this year Coach Kevin Jeffers has made adjustments in their style and has the unit playing to their strengths.
Kadre Gray and Narcisse Ambanza, along with starting point guard Jason McDonald led the way for the Saints, yet the entire squad contributed in one way or another. Gray made shots from every angle and found ways to split double teams and Ambanza got to the line at will and cleaned up from there.
Delon Jemmot is the Saint’s biggest piece standing at 6’5. He is a very physical player that sets the tone early on. It’s not a necessarily deep team, but one that will go to war every time they step on the floor.
It’s important to note that Eastern Commerce is in their final year as a program before the school shuts down. This definitely comes into play in the minds of the coaching staff and players, they are not just playing for a final season, they are representing a legacy.
Thornlea Statement Win
Thornlea opened the tournament with a 2-0 start, including a statement victory over the host team Father Henry Carr, who the Thunder held to only 27 points in the entire game, an impressive and unheard of defensive display.
Thornlea (currently #12-ranked) is a team that entered the tournament late as a result of Saltfleet dropping out, and has taken advantage of the moment.
The Thunder look like a team that has already played 20 games this season. Chemistry, shot selection and offensive execution separate them from the rest in pre-season.
Starting guard Jaaden Lewis and Kimberl Saint-Felix were key in these victories.
Lewis has added mass to a lean frame and is looking physically ready for the next level. Saint-Felix will give problems to most defenders because of his explosive first step and craftiness once he’s sucked in the defense.
Thornlea is a versatile group, very capable of winning this tournament.
Pool A: Henry Carr, Thornlea, Holy Trintiy (Oakville)
Pool B: d’Youville, Eastern Commerce, St. Mary’s (Kitchener)
Pool C: Vaughan, St. Mike’s, Bishop Reding
Pool D: Cardinal Newman (Hamilton), Mother Teresa, Campion
Thursday November 6, 2014 (Pools A & B)
Eastern Commerce 63 (Narcisse Ambanza 12) – d’Youville 56 (DamiAnn Prehay 15)
Thornlea 42 (Darius Thorne 9) – Henry Carr 27 (Shamar Bailey-Decoteau 6)
Eastern Commerce 82 (Kadre Gray 25) – St. Mary’s (Kitchener) 53 (Tesloth Simon 18)
Henry Carr 54 (Kyle LeFave 13) – Holy Trinity (Oakville) 48 (Chris Hankins 20)
d’Youville 58 (Jordan Lyons 16) – St. Mary’s (Kitchener) 51 (Tesloth Simon 25)
Thornlea 62 (Kimberl Saint-Felix 19) – Holy Trinity (Oakville) 56 (Chris Hankins 20)
Friday November 7, 2014 (Pools C & D)
1:30pm: Cardinal Newman (Hamilton) vs. Mother Teresa
3:00pm: Vaughan vs. St. Mike’s
4:30pm: Mother Teresa vs. Campion
6:00pm: St. Mike’s vs. Bishop Reding
7:30pm: Campion vs. Cardinal Newman (Hamilton)
9:00pm: Bishop Reding vs. Vaughan
Saturday November 8, 2014
9:30am: Consolation Semi Final #1 – Henry Carr vs. 2nd Pool D
11:00am: Consolation Semi Final #2 – d’Youville vs. 2nd Pool C
12:30pm: Championship Semi Final #1 – Thornlea vs. Winner Pool D
2:00pm: Championship Semi Final #2 – Eastern Commerce vs. Winner Pool C
3:30pm: Consolation Championship (5th Place)
5:00pm: Bronze Medal (3rd Place)
6:30pm: Championship Game