Provincial Champion St. Mike’s Blue Raiders Look to Add National Title
St. Michael’s Blue Raiders took home a thriller in North Bay earlier this month, collecting their third OFSAA title in four years with a 71-70 win over Cambridge’s St. Benedict.
In a thrilling game, St. Mike’s sealed the deal with a pair of last second free throws from Atik Gilao to bring home the hardware, despite an unbelievable 52 performance from St. Benedict’s Zubair Seyed.
The Raiders had multiple players contribute to their scoring efforts, with Kobey Ketavong leading St. Mike’s with 17, Gilao adding 16 and Djuricic finishing with 15. The team’s well-rounded performance helped them endure the onslaught from Seyed, and pull out a spectacular victory in the finals.
The big win gives some momentum for St. Mike’s to coast on while heading into the NPA National Championships, taking place at University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus March 31-April 2nd.
“We are excited to continue our season with the opportunity to play for a National Championship after having won OFSAA,” said Jeff Zownir, Head Coach at St. Mike’s. “Our team has really grown both individually and collectively as the season has gone on.”
The Toronto squad had some time off since the OFSAA Championship to recharge their batteries, and look to head into the NPA playoffs with a full head of steam.
“We are coming off a two week March Break, so we are using that as a positive despite a little rust due to the layoff. The guys needed a break both mentally and physically after the high intensity and the emotional drain of playing at OFSAA,” said Zownir.
The Blue Raiders match up against Canada Topflight Academy from Ottawa, Ontario in their first round battle. St. Mike’s topped CTA during their meeting in the NPA Eastern Conference Session, pulling out an 84-62 victory on CTA’s home turf. Despite the win, Zownir notes that this will be a different game than the one that took place in November, and that the Blue Raiders will need to execute in order to advance.
CTA has made significant strides, having won 10 games in a row after a rough start to the season, making them arguably the hottest team entering nationals. Also of note, CTA recently edged out a well oiled machine in Thetford Academy out of Quebec–a positive sign for the group out of the nation’s capital.
“We need to play good solid team defense and make sure we take the shots we want to take. I know they are improved since the last time we faced them, but so are we, so it should be a nice matchup.”
Provincial title…check. National title? It could be on the way.
Be sure to check out all of the NPA National Championship games in Mississauga March 31-April 2nd at the University of Toronto campus in Mississauga. Also you can follow along at home with North Pole Hoops exclusive live steam coverage.