St. Catherines, ON – Before jumping into the excitement, NPH would like to thank the entire staff of Ontario Basketball for making an event such as the Ontario Cup possible. It was truly a pleasure to have a venue that displayed a large group of Ontario’s talents and future stars.
On Sunday May 29, at Brock University, the Bob Davis gymnasium was swarmed by anxious fans, parents and family friends who wanted to see the rematch between the number 6 seed, St. David Blues and 7 seed, Mississauga Monarchs. The night before Championship day, the Blues and Monarchs had faced off in their final game before playoffs. The Monarchs, led by Petar Rusic and Myles Charvis’ 3-point shooting gave Mississauga supporters bragging rights coming into playoffs as they came out with a 54-50 win.
The gold medal game started in a back and forth fashion as both teams refused to go under. On one end there was Vince DiVito of the Blues nailing consecutive shots from 3 point land and on the other hand Rusic was continuing his dazzling shooting performance from throughout the tournament.
Inside the arc, the Monarchs had three big problems to deal with by the name of Agunwa Okolie, Isaiah Watkins and Zach Shaban. Due to the closeness of the score it wouldn’t seem so, however, rebounding was a major issue for the Monarchs if their big, Matthew Beckford wasn’t in the game. Although he was a dominant option in the block all through the duration of the tournament, it was tough for Coach Gary Charvis to keep him in it as he accumulated fouls guarding the lengthier Okolie, in the first half. Watkins had this same issue however made some changes, as he explains, “I tried to make sure that I was altering shots and not having to take big swats at it, and that kept me in the game, or at least give me a chance to finish”.
As the half came to a close Rusic gave Monarchs supporters something to cheer about as he hit a 3 while falling to the floor as his defender leaned over. For those who have had the pleasure of watching Rusic play before, you’ll realize that these types of shots are one he makes on the regular. Then you watch him get back on defense expecting a reaction, but you don’t get one. He’s one of the most composed players in his age group. His counterpart and enemy in this tournament is Henry Tan, who is also a very poised prospect and reliable teammate when they play together on the AAU circuit.
Tan was an absolute gem in this final as he totaled for 20 points; 10 of which were in the fourth quarter. Multiple times he would receive the ball at the top of the key from a defensive rebounder and push the ball in transition on his own; the end result usually being a left handed layup with no one at the hoop to stop him. On various occasions when one of the guards were able to catch up with him, it would usually be hoop and the harm for Tan.
With three minutes to go in the game the Blues had extended their lead to ten and would continue to pull away. The final minutes were played without the Monarchs pulverizer, Matthew Beckford as he would foul out and shortly after him Brandon Goin-Bailey would follow. The Monarchs made a valiant effort and played superb throughout the Ontario Cup, however they would finish with a silver medal after a 70- 55 loss over the Blues.
PHOTO COURTESY – ONTARIO BASKETBALL, GORDAN THAIN