Follow Tariq Sbiet on Twitter: @Tsbiet
LONDON, ON–Every basketball season, the third month of the year is a special one for hoop fanatics from coast-coast. Some teams are rewarded, while most are devastated. The time, sacrifice and dedication that is shown throughout the course of the year is put on the line for the ultimate goal.
In Ontario, the end of the road at the high school level is called OFSAA, where 18 respective teams, dominant in their regions, collide for the right to be called provincial champs. Last year it was the Oakwood Barons led by Santa Clara freshman Julian Clarke that managed to capture the ring en route to Clarke’s fourth quarter onslaught. Who will it be to make a name for themseves this time around? Scouts, coaches, and thousands of fans are sure to be on hand for the madness; it’s game time! Hearts will be broken and heroes will be branded…it’s OFFICIALLY time to go hard or go home. The time is now!!
Here we go…
I believe Vaughan is the overall deepest team in the tournament, despite their youth. With a tough match up for any player in this tournament in sophomore (grade 10) phenom Andrew Wiggins , he will look to make his mark on the big stage. In addition, the leadership and poise from junior point guard Henry Tan along with Mr. Clutch, junior Troy Reid-Knight , it will be difficult to overcome Coach constantine’s squad and are my pick to take the crown.
Expect the home team H.B Beal Raiders to come out with passion and energy as they will most definitely have the crow behind them. Led by NPH #43-ranked point guard Chavaun Miller-Bennett and athletic wing #44-ranked Trey Langford , the Raiders are thinking upset although seeded at a surprsingly high 6-spot.
- Keep an eye out on stand out guard #53-ranked Shamlo Saeed of J.F Ross, one of Ontario’s best kept secrets. Ross will progresss in the tournament as far as Saeed carries his squad.
- After the debacle for J.C Richardson ending in nearly missing OFSAA, prior to the big dance and an NPH ranking drop from #2 in the nation, to #4, the Storm will be out for blood to prove that they more than belong with the cream of the crop.
- The Sacred Heart Huskies out of Ottawa, had a strong showing among the Greater Toronto Area’s elite earlier in the season, then placed second at the BRIT championships in Saskatchewan. Acadia and Ottawa commits NPH #36-ranked Sean Stoqua and Vik Gill will need to be on their A-game if the Huskies are to make a deep push at the big dance.
- A surprisingly low #7 seeding for Loyola will only be fuel to this gritty, organized squad, on a hunt to prove all the nay sayers wrong.
- The defending 4A OFSAA champions have repeat on their minds, however it will definitely be a tough task with a young group. Kevin Blake along with youngsters Isaiah Watkins, Tyrell Green will ignite the Barons offense, however if teams go zone, it will be interesting to see how Blake responds. Will he step up his shooting game, or continue to slash for contested attempts?
- Coach Paul Melnik will have his FHC troops ready for war, led by Tre Boutilier one of the finer perimeter defenders Ontario has to offer. Richard Audu will also play an integral roll for Carr, if they are to back up their #5 seeding.
- NPH #1-ranked team in Vaughan has been also granted a well deserved top spot at the tournament. The Voyageurs are one of the most exciting teams to watch in Canada.
OFSAA OFFICIAL SEEDINGS
The following are 18 teams that have secured a berth into the AAAA OFSAA Championships set in London, Ontario on March 7-9. Stay tuned for NPH full coverage on this event live from London!
School/ Region/ NPH National Ranking
U-R= Unranked NPH teams
Vaughan- YRAA/ #1
J.C Richardson- LOSSA/ #4
Loyola– GHAC/ #3
Oakwood– TDSAA/ #12
Henry Carr- TDCAA/ U-R
H.B Beal- WOSSAA/ #25
Sacred Heart– NCSSAA/ #22
Eastern Commerce- TDSSAA/ U-R
St. Michael’s College– CISAA/ #16
St. Marguerite D’Youville- ROPSSAA/ U-R
Fletcher’s Meadow- ROPSSAA/ U-R
Holy Names- SWOSSA/ U-R
Holy Trinity- GHAC/ U-R
Cameron Heights- CWOSSA/ U-R
St. Thomas Aquinas/ U-R
Ancaster- SOSSA/ U-R
John F. Ross- CWOSSA/ U-R
Collingwood- GBSSA/ U-R
It is also important to note that the 4A OFSAA championship is not the only provincial event taking place as there is AAA OFSAA in Niagara along with AA/A OFSAA both located in North Bay.
NPH will also monitor these events and provide updates on the sports ticker. Stay tuned!!