Oakwood finds themselves in a familiar setting as last year, around this time.
The Barons have battled their way into the Humber Classic championship game (a tournament they won last year) defeating Vaughan 47-39 in the semi-finals this time around.
After a very slow offensive start to the game (evidenced by a 28-15 Oakwood halftime deficit),senior point guard Calvin Epistola turned it up, scoring all 13 of his points in the third and fourth quarters, including six straight to open the second half.
But it wasn’t just the scoring, it was the impact he had on the floor as a playmaker, as a leader, raising his assertiveness.
“Calvin was just super agressive in the second half, he helped us raise our energy and that was the difference,” said Oakwood Head Coach Anthony Miller.
Oakwood held Vaughan to 11 points in the second half.
Brody Clarke, Russell Baker and Jordan Rose were key pieces that the Barons lost from last year, but that hasn’t changed the teams’ approach.
“That’s been our motto, we try to win on our defense. This year is no different, ” Miller told North Pole Hoops.
Dequon Cascart, who had nine points in the semi-final and a strong start to the tournament, brings confidence and energy to the team, and will be a big piece of the puzzle.
D’Wan Williams has lead the team offensively in this tournament and it looks like he’s been putting in repretiitions, with progress shown in his jump shot.
Defensively, Williams settled down ninth grader Andrew Nembhard of Vaughan, however Fowzi Mohamoud continued to launch from deep, leading the Voyageurs with a game-high 16.
Mohamoud, along with Chris Barrett are two compact guards for Vaughan that look like gym rats from their physical build and fundamental skill sets-two players maximizing their potential.
Against Saint John’s kilmarnock, Oakwood looks to repeat as Humber Classic champs, however go up against a Kitchener team with impressive wins under their belt, confidence and solid depth.
The point guard match up will be interesting with Michael Ganson and Calvin Epistola leading their respective teams.
SJK took care of business against St Edmund Campion in the semi-finals, 75-68 and controlled most of the game.
Ganson called it like it was.
“I’m just trying to be a playmaker, get open shots for my teammates and score when I have to.”
He did all the above, distributing on the drive and kick or acknowledging weak side open man.
Like Oakwood, SJK takes pride on the defensive end.
“Defensively, we’ve been playing well the whole tournament, continue to contain guys off the dribble, make them shoot contested jumpers, nothing easy,” said Head Coach Borko Popic.
SJK had a well-balanced attack with three players in double figures. DaShaun Lalor lead with 15 points, Michael Ganson (14) and Mike Blumel (13).
In addition, Ivan Bilandzic put in nine points including a big 2-hand jam down the lane, while Liam Courtney and Chris Thompson added nine and eight.
“We don’t have necessarily a guy every night that’s going to take over, but we have seven or eight guys consistently stepping up,” explained Popic.
They will have to step up once again to take down a well-coached, calculated Oakwood squad– 2013 Humber Classic gold medalists and reigning OFSAA champions.
Tip off is at 3 PM at Humber College.