HAMILTON,ON–They came, they saw, they conquered.
The St. Francis Phoenix don’t seem to be satisfied having made it into the #NPHTop25 national rankings, nor should they be; this is a team that has taken down two other ranked opponents and are now Pinky Lewis tournament champions after defeating the Pine Ridge Pumas 66-64.
Pinky Lewis All-Stars
Abu Kigab (tournament MVP) – St. Francis
Cele Kasamba – St. Francis
Jordan Henry – Pine Ridge
Sasha Simic – Cameron Heights
Kareem Collins – Cathedral
MVP of the tournament, Abu Kigab did not need to score in the high twenties last night as the Phoenix got well rounded contributions from their roster.
Kigab explained in post-game why this team has this glaring synergy.
“Most of us have been together for years, most of us since grade 8 and we’ve been clicking ever since. These guys are my best friends, we hang out outside of basketball, we know each other like we’re brothers.”
They had built a comfortable lead in the finals which slowly began to slip as some of the Pumas heated up.
Timely threes from Jordan Henry and Spencer Thomas kept it within reach for Pine Ridge but their surge came too late.
St. Francis was in control for most of the game and started off taking advantage of their post presence Lucas Olsthoorn who had made a living in the paint all weekend.
Since the summer he has shed 10 pounds and is more mobile; both he and Kigab have made a bodily transformation in the right direction while improving their stamina.
Olsthoorn unfortunately suffered an ankle injury as he came down off of a rebound landing on a defender’s foot in the second half.
Olsthoorn would sit out the rest of the game and Pine Ridge began their comeback.
The Pumas really needed their gunner Chase Vassell last night; his absence was felt. Vassell is coincidentally nursing a sprain and is expected back in the lineup within the next few weeks.
Henry found a way to get to the hoop and finish around the basket often. He was their guy whenever they needed a basket.
Abu Kigab is the center piece for the Phoenix and is capable of putting up 20 points or more on any given night, but what happens when you have the whole starting line up as a scoring option?
One of the team’s primary ball handlers Cele Kasamba got into detail after the game on how this team is excelling.
“We don’t have any egos, we’re all just about getting the win and all of us know that there’s not one person who could do it on their own. I want my teammate to shoot it if he’s open, it’s clear that we trust each other.”
Role definition is crystal clear with the starting unit; Abu Kigab, Lucas Olsthoorn, Cele Kasamba, Aidan Hinds and Cullen Voelkner.
Expect the recruitment around these guys to flourish as the season progresses.
Voelkner is a tough combo guard that can score from all over the floor. The only attention that he has from the CIS is from the Brock Badgers.
Head Coach of Brock, Charles Kissi was in attendance over the weekend to get a look at Voelkner as a potential future Badger.
Voelkner won’t give you plays that you’ll see in highlights but he is consistently consistent throughout the season.
St. Francis had to play six games to win this tournament and in all games they controlled the tempo, won the battle on the glass and forced teams to turn over the rock.
Head Coach Pat Sullivan is proud of their accomplishments early on but expresses that they have a lot more work to do.
“I think we’ve grown over this tournament and of course the kids are happy about being ranked but now they know we got a larger target on our backs so we’re going to have to continue to get better.”