East Coast Round Up With Deon Wilson – Championship Edition
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As basketball leagues on the east coast grind to a halt with a weekend of surprises and then not so much in some situations, we now know who stands at the top of the Mountain.
Thousands of ballers have made the climb with only a dozen in each league reaching the pinnacle. It is with that focus in mind that this edition of the East Coast Round Up caters to the Champions.
The teams that may have done one more rep, the teams that dove for one more loose ball, the teams that locked down on D or the teams that competed as a TEAM.
The Saint Mary’s Huskies thwarted a great playoff run by the St FX X-Men and Coach Jonah Taussig has guided SMU to the CIS National championships.
The Saint Mary’s Huskies outpaced the St FX X-Men 81 -72 to win the 2014 AUS Conference Championship in a game that the Huskies controlled from wire to wire. The Huskies are an impressive team with great athletes who play together and for each other. The defensive effort and ball movement are consistent throughout. That is why they are currently competing in Ottawa for a national title.
The “picture of perfect” in this situation was that hard nose rebounder and consummate team player Harry Ezenibe of the Huskies was named MVP. Ezenibe, who hails from Nigeria comments on the championship saying “its great to bring this to Saint Mary’s and Halifax, this is home and the support of this community has been unreal and its great to bring a championship back to Saint Mary’s”. Ezenibe is the back bone of this team.
As you watch this team play you really see a special bond and commitment to each other and this couldn’t be more evident by Marquis Clayton’s play. Clayton who traditionally is known as a scoring guard came off the bench to give the huskies eight assists in the championship game after dishing out 12 in the semi final. The balance continues with solid inside play from Terrance Taylor and scoring from Theon Reefer and Boyd Vassell.
Riley Halpin, a fifth year senior from Halifax summed it up nicely to NPH “I sat here as an eight year old and watched SMU win a National Championship and I told my parents then I was going to bring a championship to the Huskies”.
Saint Mary’s first opponent at Nationals as the #6 seed is the Alberta Golden Bears, and remember this is a SMU team that played the mighty Carleton Ravens to a 3 point game in the preseason.
Nova Scotia High School Basketball
In Boys Division 1 Basketball the Auburn Drive Eagles won their second straight Provincial Championship by disposing of city rival Prince Andrew 82-66. The eagles who lost the Regional Championship to Citadel High, used it as motivation for the 2 weeks of prep time for NSSAF Provincials. The team showed how hungry they were by coming out with an intensity that the Panthers could not match.
Auburn sped through the game behind sensational play from team leaders and starting guards Johneil Johnson (2015) and Levi Smith III (2015). These two guards along with Trey David (2014) were phenomenal defensively as they got in the faces of the PA guards with such aggression I thought they were going to follow them into timeouts. In an NPH Interview Johnson and Smith echoed the same thing “defense wins championships and we wanted to come in with this mentality early and carry it throughout and win a game we knew we could win”
Kellan Duke (2014), Dan Sule (2014) and Greg Manual (2015) off set this mentality in the paint by putting their bodies on the line, controlling the boards and shutting down what little penetration got by the Auburn guards.
In Girls Division 1 Basketball one of the most dominant programs to ever compete in their respective league, The Citadel High Phoenix won their
third consecutive championship 59-50 over Horton High School. The word dominant is used because not only was this a championship win it was also the teams 100th consecutive win. You just don’t get more symbolic than that and in a sports world driven by numbers you don’t get bigger than 100-0.
Just try and wrap your head around it, the senior players on the roster get to say they were 100-0 in there high school basketball careers. This is definitely the most defining and amazing basketball accomplishment, forget basketball. This is just flat out AMAZING in any sense.
Congrats to seniors Jayla Verney, Desiree Oakley, Jane Boyle, Tyleigha Nelson, Becky Miller, Jill Edwards and Katie Reno who are the rarest of rare athletes who never lost a game in their high school careers.
The Holland College Hurricanes captured a second straight conference championship by defeating Crandall University 88-74. Holland College moves onto the CCAA National Championships at Quest College in Squamish British Columbia with the #5 seed and will play the #4 Seed Vanier College the RESQ Champions.
In Women’s play, the St Thomas Women continued their league dominace by winning their 4th consecutive ACAA Conference Championship 66-49 over the Holland College Hurricanes. Saint Thomas has completely dominated the league in 2013/14 only losing on one occasion and with most games being lopsided victories.
St Thomas moves onto the CCAA National Championships in Champlain College Saint-Lambert March 12-15 and open the tournament as the #2 seed and play the host team the #7 Champlain College.