It was a grind it out Oakwood Barons special Saturday night.
On a night that saw Oakwood score their lowest amount in the Heinbuch Classic, D’wan Williams made sure all of his points counted.
Williams had a game high 20 points as Oakwood defeated St. Mary’s 57-52 in a rematch of last years finals to capture their fourth straight Heibuch Classic Championship.
Oakwood has now tied Runnymede for the most championships with six Heinbuch under their belt.
St. Mary’s also registered their lowest offensive output of the tournament with Tesloth Simon, who was battling foul trouble all game, leading the team with 14 points.
With the Barons trailing 38-32 in the third, the game was a battle of the fourth quarter, a quarter that saw Oakwood outscore St. Marys 25-14.
“I think they had our number in the first half,” said tournament MVP Calvin Epistola. “But at halftime we made a couple adjustments, we knew we would be able to score, eventually, on run outs, took pride on defense and grinded it out in the end.”
Calvin finished with 8 points in the game, including a three pointer in the fourth quarter, along with a pair of steals, and two great dimes to the tenth grade Mirko Drca for layups, all in the final two minutes of the game.
“Calvin is everything to this team,” explained Williams. “He’s the point guard, he’s our leader, he gets on everyone at practice, he makes everybody better, without him we would be a completely different team.”
Williams also brought some much needed scoring in the second half, netting 11 of his 20 points in the final and deciding quarter.
“Dwan is the motor,” suggested Epistola. “Without him we wouldn’t score half our points as a team, he scores on pull up jumpers, catch and shoot, gets into the lane and still plays great defense.”
No one was more proud of his boys than Baron’s head coach Anthony Miller, who admits that while his squad may be young and this is probably the most teaching he has ever done as a coach, the team continued to show toughness and fight hard in the face of defeat.
“St Mary’s is an older team”, said coach Miller. “We’ve got a lot of young new faces and I just thought that this game was going to be the test to see if we could fight hard enough, and be tough enough in all four quarters.”
Two guys who definitely had their coming out party this tournament for Oakwood was six-foot-one guard Dequon Cascart and six-foot-seven forward Mirko Drca.
“Dequon is a guy on the come up,” explains D’wan. “He’s a guy that works his tail off in practice, got better over the summer and it shows as he’s shooting the ball much better, he’s really intense on defense, and he was the spark plug for us this weekend.”
“He gives us the kind of that dimension that Russell (Baker) gave us last year”, preached coach Miller. “He’s a great energy guy, very athletic, and can defend at a high level.”
Miller also praised young big man Mirko Drca, adding, “He just came in and really helped us out today, making his free throws and playing big.”
The loss was a hard one on St. Mary’s, especially senior Tesloth Simon.
His early foul troubles limited his ability to contribute offensively to the game.
Having to come off the bench after being seated for the entire third quarter hindered his ability to be involved in the rhythm and flow of the game.
Oakwood will be looking to build on the tournament win, as this year’s squad seems to be a delightful mix of young enthusiasm and veteran leadership – a mix that could quite possibly get the Barons back to AAAA OFSSAA finals.
Tournament All-Stars : First Team
MVP Calvin Epistola – Oakwood
Dwan Williams – Oakwood
Sasha Simic – Cameron Heights
Tesloth Simon – St. Mary’s
Jamari Stevenson – St. Mary’s
Tournament All-Stars : Second Team
Hedim Hodzic – Sir John A Macdonald
Shai Alexander – Sir Allan MacNab
Xaiver Ellis – Sir Thomas Moore
Nikola Faric – Cameron Heights
Ousmane Kromah – Eastwood
ROAD TO THE FINALS.
And so they meet again.
The Oakwood Barons and St. Mary’s Eagles were all set for a rematch of last year Heinbuch Classic as both teams were able to beat their opponents handily in the semi finals.
Oakwood defeated Sir John A. Macdonald (SJAM) 75-60, while St. Mary’s was too much for MacNab winning 77-61.
Oakwood’s defense and tenacity were on display right away as they jumped out to a 23-11 lead over SJAM in the first quarter and didn’t look back.
St. Mary’s did much of the same in their semi final matchup, pouncing to a 19-5 lead in the first quarter on a very young and inexperienced team in MacNab.
Oakwood’s Dwan Williams and Calvin Epistola have such a control of the game, Williams with his ability to score and defend, and Calvin with his ability to distribute the ball, defend, and score when he needed to.
SJAM didn’t look overmatched, however barring a better game from floor general Simon Petrov, they could have really turned out with the upset.
In the face of Petrov’s struggles, something I think had to do with Calvin’s hawking on ball defense, Justin Hardy, a six-foot-three guard for SJAM, was able to score on the catch and shoot from three, or off the dribble in the midrange.
Nedim Hodzic also played exceptionally well and although there is a question about him being undersized at his position, I still haven’t seen a bigger guy outplay the six-foot-five forward.
But I have to say the biggest and most pleasant surprise had to be senior centre/forward Brett Parrott.
Parrott, who I spoke to last year regarding his game, told me that he was going work all summer long to become a capable perimeter threat.
He wasn’t joking.
Besides playing his fundamental, space eating defense at six-foot-eight, Parrott showed off his touch hitting three triples, and also put the ball on the floor, getting to the rim and making plays for his teammates off the bounce.
He still has some way to go, but dropping 20 points on a tough Oakwood team is definitely a step in the right direction.
MacNab also had many bright spots despite their 16 point loss to St Marys.
Khamleem Bennett, the 2014 Hamilton NPH underclassmen MVP, is such a complete player at such a young age that it is just flat out scary.
The lefty’s first two points came on authoritative put back slam over two St. Mary players who were also reaching for the ball.
But just to show he wasn’t a one trick pony, Bennett would hit a three on the next possession, followed by a steal and fast break slam.
Bennett, who is in the class of 2018, finished with 17 points as his composure in the paint against bigger opponents allowed him to pump fake, gather, and finish with contact, something no grade 10 kid should be doing.
MacNab is oozing with basketball talent, as nine of their twelve players on the squad still have two or more years of high school basketball eligibility.
Ruedale Williams and Shai Alexander are two players in the class of 2017 that have really played well at the Hienbuch.
Williams is a smooth operator, with a good feel for the game,and the ability to change speeds well with a good jump shot.
Alexander is a straight up scorer, as the six-foot-two eleventh grader is able to put the ball in the basket in so many different ways.
THE OTHER GUYS
There was a abundance of talent at RIM Park Friday, as over 160 players on 16 different teams played sixteen different games. Here is what I learned.
St. Patrick from Ottawa looked good in there first came against Cameron Heights and these three players in particular rose to the occasion.
Muhammed Kabeya is a five eleven-point guard with some serious upside who participated on the U17 Ontario team this summer.
In the game against Cameron, Kabeya stood out, partly because of his hounding style of on-ball defense.
Kabeya matched up with Nikola Farkic and did an excellent job on one of the best point guards in the country.
He was able to turn Farkic up and down the court with his full-court pressure and even picked the pocket of the sure handed point guard.
Kabeya also did some nice things offensively, using his speed, quickness, and handles to get into the paint and free-throw line, as well as setting up his pull up midrange jumper.
Ryan Kabuya was also a force for the Irish, as the six foot two guard has the speed and the size to get to anywhere he wants on the floor.
Kabuya was able to get to the paint with relative ease, even going up against Cameron’s six foot ten inch Ivan Cucak and ending up with AND ONE opportunities.
Kabuya is also a very talented defender with his quick foot speed and strength being his main weapons.
But one of the most impressive players on St. Patricks was their six foot six forward Lock Lam.
Although Lam struggled offensively, something he admitted to me after the game, his rebounding, shot blocking, and shot-altering presence was second to none at the Heinbuch.
Lam consistently changed and altered the shots of Cameron players at the rim as his sense of anticipation was fully on display.
All three players are currently in the class of 2016.
Cameron Heights also has its share of young guns in Sasha Simic and Ivan Cucak, to go along with there steadying force at the point Nikola Faric.
Faric is a pure point guard with an incredible demand on the games tempo, pace, and rhythm on the offensive end.
Faric’s confidence radiates on the basketball floor as his handles and shifty body language allows him to maneuver freely on the court, and around defenders.
However Farkic’s real strength is his vision and playmaking ability. He always seems to be able to put the ball on the money for shooters and feeds his big men on pick and rolls with the slightest of ease. The kids a top tier offensive point guard and it is very noticeable every time he steps out on to the floor.
Sasha Simic and Ivan Cucak also looked like they took big steps forward from last year, although they both know there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Simic looks, understandably, looks more confident in this years Heinbuch Classic as the six-foot-five swingman has spent the summer sharpening his all around skills.
Simic’s jump-shot was looking more fluid and quicker than it did last year as he was able to hit it with more regularity even with defenders flying out at him.
Simic also looks to have tightened up his handle and footwork as he is now able to maneuver on the court more freely than years past. His vision and playmaking have also expanded, although his decision making at times suffers.
Ivan Cucak also looked very good as the seven footer has excellent mechanics, lift, and range on his jump shot.
Cucak inside game looks better as he has gotten significantly stronger putting on 10-15 pounds over the summer.
Ousmane Kromah of Eastwood also played extremely well, helping Eastwood upset Notre Dame from Welland with his consistent three point touch, and finishing at the rim.
The Heinbuch Classic was another success, however, the same question will be raised again next year … will a Kitchener/Waterloo team finally win the damn thing?!
For full scores, leading scorers, and the Heinbuch Classic bio please visit www.heinbuchclassic.ca