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TORONTO, ON-The formula was different, but the final result stayed the same for the fifth annual Vaughan Classic.
For the first time, the Classic had a draw of 16 teams, which meant that the basketball junkies had their money’s worth of this high-caliber tournament. Yet after three days of basketball and 26 games, the Vaughan Voyageurs were again victorious in their tournament after defeating the Martingrove Bears by the score of 73-58.
Vaughan head coach Gus Gymnopoulos told NPH afterward that while a win is nice, it remains just one win like any other game. “The wins don’t mean much at this point in the season,” he said.
“What you want is building blocks for (later) success… The winning and losing isn’t important, what’s important is getting better.”
Vaughan had qualified for the final after defeating Pineridge in their previous game. The opponent was Martingrove, victorious over Pickering just a match before. In the first half of the final, the two teams seemed evenly matched as the Voyageurs held a narrow 36-30 lead after the first sixteen minutes of play.
At that point, Vaughan’s Troy Reid-Knight had hit four three-point shots for Vaughan while Connor Gilmore had showcased his post moves as well as a shooting touch from outside for Martingrove. Yet, the Bears went only as far as point guard Emmanuel Owootoah took them. In fact, Vaughan went on a quick 8-0 run with Owootoah resting near the end of the second quarter.
Owootoah impressed both coaches with his performance. Martingrove’s Shawn Gray explained that Owootoah is the one showing the way for the Bears. “He’s our spark that gets our energy going,” he said. “Everybody can see how quick he is and how talented he is.”
Gymnopoulos explained that Martingrove will “capitalize instantly” on any mistake in defensive transition. “(Owootoah) is so dynamic,” he said.
“His ball-handling is phenomenal (and so are) his quickness, his change of pace and his change of direction.”
In the third quarter, Vaughan finally created separation from Martingrove, holding a 54-43 lead after 24 minutes of play. From there, the good only got better as Vaughan pulled away by as many as 18 points at some point. The final score was 73-58.
The tournament showed that Vaughan had more depth than its opponents, Gymnopoulos said. “I think that a strength of our team is our depth,” he said. “It’s taking us a little longer to get to where we want, because we’re sticking to playing as many guys as we can.”
Gray had another explanation as well. “We were with them in the first half, he said. “We were not executing and we were not playing good defense (in the second half). We’re better than that.”
Still, Gray was happy overall.
“It was a good tournament and our biggest highlight was knocking off Pickering (in the semis),” he said. “We are capable of beating strong teams and playing good, hard-nosed basketball. We have to make sure we are consistent enough.”
Next, the Voyageurs stay true to their name, as they travel to Montreal for the Sun Youth tournament against collegiate (i.e. CÉGEPS) competition.
“I like going there and getting beat up for three or four games,” he said. “Traveling is also good for the guys. They learn to be tighter as teammates.”
Yes, that too.
Tournament all-star team
Austin Chambers. Guard, Pickering HS
Emmanuel Owootoah. Point guard, Martingrove CI
Reece Brooks. Point guard, Brampton Centennial HS
Troy Reid-Knight. Guard, Vaughan SS
Jamal Reynolds. Point guard, Pineridge SS
Roshane Roberts. Vaughan SS