VAUGHAN,ON–Absolute domination is what went down at the Vaughan Jr. Classic. The Father Henry Carr Crusaders beat up on teams, averaging a 38 point margin. There was no shortage of talent on other teams in this tournament, but it was about getting the group to work together and invest their efforts into the system. A major piece to the FHC system was a young man by the name of John Akende who averaged 16 points and five rebounds. Akende would go on to be rightfully selected as MVP. There’s only one other person who proved to take over games the way Akende did and that was St. Michael’s College, shooting guard Marcus Carr, who carried a similar frame and style of play.
Akende is a very exciting player to watch. He is a high energy, athletic, fiery and physical guard, to sum up what he brings to the table. Pushing the ball in transition is an area that he excels in thanks to his speed and ability to create for himself and others. Based on what we learned about him throughout the summer up until now, he is looking like a top 10 prospect in the 2018 class. He has a lot of maturing to do mentally, but the MVP is extremely skilled at this point; the next step is all about composure and how is energy is directed.
FHC may have another guard in Shae Brown who also fits the bill but it might be a little too early to say, it comes down to consistency. Brown displayed a breakdown game and explosiveness that is rare with prospects at the ninth and tenth grade. If St. Mike’s didn’t know who he was before, I’m sure they do now.
It was the finals everyone was waiting for, FHC vs SMC. That anticipation quickly died after the first quarter when the eventual champs took a 20 point lead and killed any hopes of a come back by continuing to ride their momentum. Marcus Carr went on a run in the third quarter but it would not be enough to get St. Mike’s back in the game; especially since he was trying to without an excellent but injured point guard in Jonathan Kabongo.
Kabongo’s tailbone was bothersome earlier in the day and had given him shooting pains during this game in the second half, forcing him to sit out the rest of the way. Not only is he the top play maker on his team, but he also would have been able to slow down and stay in front of FHC’s guards.
The term “defense wins championships” has been around for so long because it’s the absolute truth. The Father Henry Carr Crusaders came out with that mindset from day one of the tournament and never turned away from that philosophy. It was usually by the middle of the second quarter where their opponents realized that they were not taking their foot off the gas. Coach Rono Miller called for a press to start every game and the Crusaders took off, stifling the other teams ball handlers and forcing them to make quick decisions.
At any point in time, Coach Miller could sub the guy at the end of the bench and expect the same effort and production. If this is what they do before the season starts, imagine where could be half way through.
A common phrase over the weekend was “hey, it’s early Novmber,” meaning give us some time and we’ll show you who we really are. Teams like Blessed Mother Teresa, Emery and Bill Crothers have yet to find the identity that forms who they are as individual players and how they are as a unit.
Henry Carr took advantage.