I arrived to Winnipeg for semi-final action where I was treated to two high level games at the 17U level–British Columbia VS Nova Scotia and Manitoba VS Ontario.
A developing trend I’m noticing over the years is Nova Scotia contending for medals on a yearly basis, and particularly for GOLD.
The defending champions at the 17U level are back in contention to repeat, but will have to go through Ontario (again). At the 15U level, they took care of a LOADED Team O roster, that featured Addison Patterson, Luka Sahota, Josh Hemmings, Matthew Moncreiffe to name a few.
It will be the first time EVER that the 15U Ontario team is not in the finals, as they have won gold every year with an exception of one in 2007–this will be the second time.
This 15U victory is the most notable of the tournament thus far, considering the amount of talent on Ontario…which leads me to believe there is some big time talent on Nova Scotia as well.
Caleb Johnson, younger brother of St Bonaventure alum Chris Johnson is on Scotia as well as Kellen Tynes, sibling of Chase on the 17U Scotia team which you will read about shortly.
The talent does not stop there either. I will be learning more about this team today in the finals.
Nova Scotia 17U Finds Redemption
British Columbia took game one early in the tournament, however Scotia came prepared in game two when it mattered most. Scotia simply outworked BC, best illustrated by countless second, third and fourth chance opportunities on the offensive glass.
Nova Scotia’s top performers were Alex Muise, Ben Stevens, Eli Kraushar, and Chase Tynes. Muise was fantastic, efficiently registering a game-high 29 points–composed, tough, skilled and confident, Muise can’t be rattled and as one of the leaders of this team, he impacts the rest of his troops with approach.
Eli Kraushar is similar to Muise in terms of composure; he set the tone early hitting seven straight point to start the game. A high I.Q player that was always a plus on the floor, and defended multiple positions, which included battling with 6’9 Grant Shepherd. 6’7 Ben Stevens, who was a BREAK OUT performer at the East Coast NPH Showcase in March, is a live body, with a good nose for the ball–he blocked shots, tipped in rebounds and provided a quality interior presence for Scotia. We can’t forget Chase Tynes, Scotia’s designate “athlete” as he attacks the rim at will and finished above the rim quite often. Tynes provides Scotia with another dimension to their attack–his play will be important against Ontario on both ends of the floor.
For British Columbia, Mason Bourcier and Grant Shephard are the heavy hitters, as a lot of action goes through them, and particularly with Bourcier making plays. The PG is a playmaker with high IQ, good athleticism and feel for the game–as he moves forward in his career, he will begin to understand how to utilize his abilities at a higher level and “bite into games” as he was clearly BC’s best playmaker.
Sam Bailey and Jaden Touchie also stood out to me. Bailey came up big particularly late in the game, hitting big shots to keep it close. Touchie wasn’t a major offensive force, however I liked his non-stop motor and effort level–he was a spark plug for BC.
Nova Scotia was tested on multiple occasions, as British Columbia didn’t go down without a fight, yet the group never folded. The team has a championship pedigree as defending champs (four returners) along with a silent swagger. They are playing the best team ball from what I’ve seen thus far, and I’m not surprised that they are back in the gold medal game with a rematch of 2015 nationals.
The match up between Scotia and Ontario is going to be a war.
Rising Stars Shine Between Ontario & Manitoba
NCAA talent all over the field between Ontario and Manitoba, starting with Khaleem Bennett, Daniel Sackey and Emmanuel Akot.
This was a fast paced, high level game with a great home crowd at the University of Winnipeg. It went down to the wire, but MB couldn’t get over the hump that was Khaleem Bennett and Ontario, despite major efforts from Emmanuel Akot (32 points, 10 rebounds) Daniel Sackey (27 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists) and 21 points from Wyatt Tait.
I like to call Sackey “Roadrunner” attributed to his blinding speed. In addition, his confidence and big time shot making ability separate him from most in the country. Ultimate competitor with a chip on his should—he made huge shots late in the game to keep things very close. Akot showed why he is arguably the top prospect in the entire tournament, with his break down ability at 6’7, perimeter skill set and length on defense. As for Tait, he brought great energy and was able to be productive with and without the ball in his hands.
Bennett lead Ontario with 28 points, while the big fellas Owen Boisvert and Jaden Bediako added 20 and 14 points respectively.
Khaleem was cookin’ from deep and hit multiple back breakers that kept MB at bay. The 6’4 lefty adding a consistent jump shot takes his game to a whole new level, as he already thrives both in the land and in transition. Bennett’s confidence is at an ALL-TIME high and his stock is rising quickly.
Owen Boisvert is a silent assassin laced with skill, patience and footwork–an Ottawa product that continues to improve–expect him to be a factor against Nova Scotia.
The 17 finals will provide us with contrasting styles of play–Ontario will look to run up and down, (which Scotia can also do) however they will likely try and slow it down into half court basketball, aiming to pick apart Team O.
On the flipside, Ontario could utilize its length particularly on the defensive end, and for Scotia to speed it up—easier said than done as Scotia’s collective Team I.Q will player counter.
The entire Nova Scotia basketball program is rollin’ right now and they would make yet another major statement if they can pull this one off.
Nova Scotia the new Basketball Powerhouse in Canada?