BRAMPTON,ON–For the third year in a row, the Sir Allan MacNab Lions (Hamilton) took themselves to the Championship game of the 3rd annual D’Youville Junior Jam where they would pick up their second tournament championship after a long, back and forth game that went into double overtime against host team St. Marguerite D’Youville Panthers (Brampton).
The stage was set for a whole lot of slashing from D’Youville, against high percentage shooting from MacNab. The Lions shot their way to a 79-74 victory after seeing heroics from their hit men Sam Jenkins and Rueadale Williams who made the shots to take it into the first and second overtime.
The energy level from the Panthers started high in the first quarter after a one handed cram in transition from Kajon Gordon-Stephens that ignited the home crowd. They were quickly silenced by a first quarter buzzer beater by the Lions top play maker Shai Alexander. He finished the night with nine assists to go with 13 points.
Once the Lions bit into the lead they held onto it for the majority of the game. Going into halftime the score was 33-29 and the game’s high scorer Sam Jenkins who finished with 29, already had 14 points at the half. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a junior level player shoot with such efficiency and play with such poise.
Head Coach of MacNab, Tim Francis comments on Jenkins.
“Sam is a great shooter and has the killer instinct that is going to make him a great player at the next level. He does not turn over the ball, he can score lots of different ways, and by the shot he hit at the end of that game showed that he can hit under pressure. He has been an MVP at each of the last two tournaments and consistently plays at a high level.”
Jenkins hit big shots under pressure in the semi-final game against Jean Vanier and was a big part of the blowout win. The sniper’s barrel remained full of direct shots, finishing 6/10 from the three point line.
Big plays from D’Youville’s Jordan Lyons kept the battle close as he was dominant on the glass and never gave up on plays. He was a major presence on the defensive end, neutralizing MacNab’s big man Brandon Kenyon by not allowing him to plant position in the low post. It was a monster game from Lyons, finishing the night with 25 points and 17 rebounds.
Many Panther players stepped up in the fourth quarter and showed the “refuse to lose” mentality but most notable was the defensive effort of Gareth Baugh who had six blocks in the game, four of them which he batted away in the fourth quarter. The team as a whole played their best defense in the fourth quarter, tightening up on shooters and forcing them to play off the bounce.
The defense of MacNab as a unit was however way more effective and caused many turnovers for D’Youville. DY was not able to shake off the diamond press as they fell into traps, being forced to pick up their dribble.
Who the Lions were and what they were about showed on the floor, DEFENSE!
“Our pressure defense is our team identity. We have been doing it for years. When we travel to the big city we are always undersized but make up for that with our pressure. Other teams do not get a break during our games and that causes a lot of turnovers down the stretch in the last quarters of games,” explained Coach Francis.
“D’Youville was a very talented team and was able to go on a run in the fourth. Which shows how strong they are. We were never able to put them away.”
The deal was sealed on free throws at the end of the game, D’Youville missed six and MacNab made six. This is where the pressure ultimately got to the home team.
Of course there’s a winner and a loser, but the composure and determination that these two young teams played with are things that I’m sure their coaches are very proud of. They maintained a high level of energy and got the shots that they wanted.
North Pole Hoops will continue tracking the junior level at the start of 2014 at the Hardwood Classic Junior tournament hosted by J. Clarke and Ajax and then move on to the Xavier Rim Rocker and Brampton Centennial Winter Classic.
…and we don’t stop!
NPH Top Performers
- Sam Jenkins – 29 points MVP
- Shai Alexander – 13 points, 9 assists
- Rueadale Williams 15 points, 3 steals
- Jordan Lyons – 25 points, 17 rebounds
- Kajon Gordon-Stephens – 12 points, 6 rebounds
- Gareth Baugh – 10 points, 6 blocks