Ontario U19 Championship Recap
Waterloo, ON – With the OBA’s winding down to a close, it was only fitting that the Under 19 Junior Men’s championship game would leave us with a memorable game.
In a matchup of the two heavyweights of the division, the Ottawa Guardsmen tangled with the JAMBA Cats from Scarborough. As the defending champion, it seemed the Guardsmen would have their hands full with the more athletic Cats.
After a slow start, the Cats upped their intensity and aggressiveness, and took a 21-18 lead by the end of the first quarter. Guard Aaron Best led the way with two jaw-dropping dunks that brought the crowd to its feet. At half-time, the score was 34-27 for JAMBA, and it would have been even more were it not for the outstanding play of Ottawa guard Sean Stoqua, who kept finding open looks for his teammates despite JAMBA’S high-pressure defence.In the second half, the gate almost blew wide open. JAMBA opened up a 9-point lead, pushed by the scoring of Kevon Parchment and Joseph Wani. The Cats’ length and strength in the paint looked too much for the Guardsmen to overcome. JAMBA looked ready to make a final run to seal the deal, but the Guardsmen would have none of it.
Digging down deep, the Guardsmen finally displayed the tough defensive style that they are known for. They took charges, hit the floor for loose balls, and guarded the paint with ferocity, forcing JAMBA into several outside jumpers and awkward-angle shots. The Guardsmen began to make a run, and drew even at 43-all to end the third quarter. From there, it was all Ottawa.
With their suffocating defence putting on a clinic, the Guardsmen kept breaking down the JAMBA press and getting one easy transition basket after another. Guard Mehdi Tihani stepped up by nailing several outside jumpers, and ended up finishing with 19 points. Meanwhile, Sean Stoqua kept up his Steve Nash impression by making nice passes to get teammates open looks, while also nailing several mid-range jumpers and reverse layups. He finished with 23 points, and was clearly the game’s MVP. By the time the dust settled, the Ottawa Guardsmen had won the championship in impressive fashion, by a score of 68-54, capping off a 41-18 run that started back in the 3rd quarter.
“Even after struggling in the first half, we wanted to keep concentrating on our defence and work hard as a team,” Ottawa coach Shawn McCleery said after the game.
“We are known for our defence and we always play as a team; we stick together,” said Sean Stoqua. “I give credit to our coach, and to our solid core of players. I was just trying to stay aggressive and help get other guys open looks, and score where I could.”
Bronze Medal Game
The Bronze Medal game was an entertaining affair between Toronto JCC and the Waterloo Wildhawks that went down to the wire.
In a match that was truly a coin flip, Toronto JCC hit a lay-up with 17 second remaining to pull ahead. On the ensuing possession, Toronto’s defence forced a turnover, and they held on for the thrilling win.
Toronto JCC guard Darnell Landon put on an MVP-type performance for his team, dropping 21 points and making several key hustle plays that set the pace for his team.
Waterloo’s Stefan Cvrkalj brought his A-game today as well, finishing with 27 points in a losing effort.