TORONTO, ON – What seemed to be a competitive game early on ended up in a blowout, as the U17 Ontario Boys ran all over the Alberta squad, 96-56. Behind 15 points and 10 rebounds from Player of the Game honouree, Marko Pirovic, and a dazzling 19 points from Duane Notice, Ontario made a strong statement Wednesday night.
“This team always plays hard together, and we definitely did that tonight,” said Pirovic, a 6’7 forward.
The going was ultra physical early on, as Ontario seemed determine to pound the ball down low and wear down the Alberta defence. The ballers from out west held their ground, due to strong pressure defence, namely from Wyatt Cole and Jordan Whyte. They couldn’t seem to contain Pirovic though, as he led the Ontario charge early on, and helped them take a 17-13 lead into the second frame.
“My teammates were able to find me down low early on for some good looks, and I just tried to go with the flow,” said Pirovic, explaining his dominant performance in the first quarter. “I just tried to start off strong, and then my teammates helped to take over after that.”
And boy did they ever take over! As Ontario began to get into a groove and find its offensive rhythm, Alberta was stifled by the collective length of their opponents. Ontario took a 36-25 lead into the half, and blew the door wide open in the third quarter. From there, they didn’t look back. Duane Notice did his best Dwyane Wade impression, leading numerous fast breaks and wowing the crowd with an array of jams and slick passes. Flanking him were Nick Madray, Marcus Lewis, and Agunwa Okolie, who finished with 10, 14, and 13 points respectively. Truth be told, nearly every Ontario player that saw the floor played well.
One of the telling stats was Ontario’s 54-26 edge in rebounds, as well as its 50-22 advantage in points scored in the paint. Ontario plays an aggressive brand of basketball, and loves to push the ball and attack the rim. And that’s exactly what they did all night, while holding the normally sharp-shooting Alberta boys to a measly 21% field goal percentage, and only one three-pointer made.
To Alberta’s credit, they played hard on every possession, but it just wasn’t their night. Cole Wyatt led them with 16 points, while Kyle Peterson added nine.
In a game that was expected to be closer than it was, the Ontario boys certainly gave notice that they’re ready to make a strong run at the National Championship.
“We’re ready to go,” exclaimed Pirovic. “Look out for us!”