St. Paul’s Defeat Reigning Provincial Champs Oak Park Led By Balanced Attack
Junior Sesay 21 points
Sean Jamieson 16 points
Casey Blanca 15 points
Malik Irwin 8 points
Theo Deezar 18 points
Evan Pollard 13 points
Justus Allyen-Dorrn 15 points
Winnipeg, MB–St. Paul’s High School was the site for a well anticipated matchup which featured Winnipeg rivals St. Paul’s Crusaders and defending provincial champions Oak Park Raiders. The game was originally supposed to take place at Oak Park but due to a scheduling conflict they moved the game to St. Paul’s.
This game went down to the wire where a few mistakes cost the Raiders the game in the final seconds. St. Paul’s emerged victorious 74-69 to start the Winnipeg basketball season 1-0.
The Oak Park Raiders were coming off an appearance at the Brandon Sun Spartan Invitational where they emerged champions over Kelvin High school in the finals. St. Paul’s went down to Dallas in the preseason to play in a tournament against American teams where they played well but were unable to emerge victorious in any of their games.
Led by NPH 2013 #28 ranked Junior Sesay, the Raiders had them in the driver’s seat after the first quarter. However, St. Paul’s responded in the second quarter with Evan Pollard and Theo Deezar going to work on the Oak Park bigs giving them a 39-32 lead going into halftime.
A back and forth game ensued through and continued deep into the second half as both sides traded baskets and never really was able to pull away.
In the fourth quarter, Matt Kochan hit a three pointer to give the Crusaders a bigger lead, but the Raiders responded instantly on the next possession with a triple from Casey Blanca, who is no stranger to shoot from deep.
The Raiders only down by two going into the fourth quarter made a push. They went on a 5-0 run in a minute to close the Crusaders lead to two with three minutes remaining.
However, St. Paul’s wouldn’t let them get any closer. Oak Park’s Sean Jamieson was fouled out in the final minutes and with a late turnover by the Raiders, Oak Park fell just short and the Crusaders emerged victorious.
St. Paul’s coach Jeff Laping talked to NPH after the game about how important this victory was.
“That was a really big win for us, with their success in Brandon I think they are one of the top teams in the province and we were able to come away with a tight win today so it was very encouraging so far in the early season.”
Malik Irwin who was all over the floor scoring, getting blocks, dishing passes, and doing whatever was asked of him. Irwin spoke to NPH after the victory about the team’s performance.
“As a team, we had a strong start and finish, which is what we focus on. We always kept are heads up, even when they went on scoring runs, we were able to answer their runs with runs of our own. We also played good defence to get the win.”
Look for St. Paul’s to continue their success as they will be a team to watch out for this year with a good core of players that will help them throughout the season.
Oak Park is a team that is not going to give up easily after one loss, the back to back provincial champs will still be heavily favoured to win for a third year in a row.