St. Mike’s Freeds Champions 5 Straight Years, Undefeated 16-0
WINDSOR,ON–Their 3rd tournament championship of the season and a now 16-0 record; the target on St. Michael’s College Blue Raiders back’s grows bigger after this weekends Championship win over Catholic Central at the Freeds Invitiational in Windsor, Ontario. This makes it the Blue Raiders’ fifth straight championship at Freeds.
Nelson Kaputo was awarded MVP for the second time at Freeds and has been a part of three championships, yet he carries himself with a low-key strut and calm demeanour and here is why.
“It means a lot to us but we’re just focused on taking it game by game. Undefeated feels nice but we can’t think about the big picture. Sometimes, I see it in my guys, we get lackadaisical and underestimate opponents. We can’t have that, we need to come out strong. One of these days a slow start will come back to bite us.”
We’re seeing an evolution in Kaputo’s intangibles as a leader and purer point guard.
“It’s necessary for me to step up and be a leader because we have a lot of young guys on our team. They’re young and extremely talented but inexperienced, there’s still a lot that they need to learn and I feel like there’s things that I can teach them. Me being vocal goes a long way, they know that I have faith in them and they believe in me and the system.”
The Blue Raiders came correct in this one, executing their offense well and winning the battle of the boards.
Catholic Central got the free throw line often when they were attacking with their nose to the rim but they could not convert at the stripe.
Kaputo ran the offense and assisted off of his dribble-drive penetration eight times.
Nikola Paradina was the recipient of an assist from multiple teammates. Paradina helped fill a cushion of a lead for SMC at halftime 39-21.
Paradina was launching threes unconsciously at one point, most nothing but net; at one point he had Catholic Central fans on his side. The sharp shooter would go on to finish the game with 22 points.
One of Catholic Central’s best scoring options, Donald Mensah tried keeping it a contest connecting on 70% of his shots however he needed help from others.
Eriq Jenkins did not suit up for CCH because he was ejected from the semi-final game.
Najee Brown came alive in the second half and put on a dazzling dribble performance to get himself free using his breakdown game.
Brown finished the game with a team high 20 points.
Blue Raiders youngster, Marcus Carr had 24 points in the game and got his hands on a few deflections that led to fast breaks.
As the IQ of the young guns continues to elevate with more experience, this is a team that will create further disparity between other teams in the Top 25.
CCH is number 24 and showed that their stock is worth much more.
“It’s always a challenge to come into Windsor and play CCH. Our guys like the opportunity to play against tough competition. They always give us tough games,” remarked Head Coach of the Blue Raiders, Jeff Zownir.
Catholic Central is the ninth Top 25 team to fall to SMC. Other wins against Top 25 teams below.
Notre Dame (Welland) 82-77 Exhibition game – Oct 31
Oakwood 55-52 Exhibition game – Nov 1
Vaughan 63-60 at the Early Bird Classic – Nov 7
Bishop Reding 72-53 at the Early Bird Classic – Nov 7
Eastern Commerce 73-61 at the Early Bird Classic – Nov 8
Thornlea 62-50 at the Early Bird Classic – Nov 8
St. John’s Kilmarnock (Waterloo) 61-54 – CISAA league game – Nov 25
Pine Ridge 72-49 at the Freeds Tip Off – Nov 29
Catholic Central 65-47 at Freeds Championship game – Nov 29
The trippy part of all this is that they are not in their best form yet. They are winning games while sometimes getting off to slow start because of underestimating opponents.
Can they remain number one all season long? Will they stay undefeated? Will Nelson Kaputo lead them to another OFSAA Championship?
Thornlea gets up set by St. Anne’s, St. Patrick (Sarnia) looking legit and Pine Ridge picks up a bronze medal. Look out for the adjustments in National Rankings which will be in release number 4 this week.
Nelson Kaputo – MVP – St. Michael’s
Nikola Paradina – St. Michael’s
Najee Brown – Catholic Central
Malique Calloo – Catholic Central
Chase Vassell – Pine Ridge
Kareem Collins-Samuel – Cathedral