MISSISSAUGA, ON– Everybody has the mindset that you play to get to Sunday of the Xaveier Junior Rimrocker. At the Junior level there is no end of season finals of any sort besides a regional finals; so for most, they treat this tournament as their OFSAA finals.
Thirty-two teams participated and the St. Marguerite d’Youville Panthers came out on top with a 69-63 victory over the St. Roch Ravens, a match that will likely have both teams meet again in ROPSAA finals, unless St. Augustine has something to say about it.
d’Youville played a total of seven games in four days before taking the title as Xavier Rimrocker champions.
St. Roch wasn’t willing to hand it over easy. They fought to the final minutes but had one too many turnrovers in the fourth quarter to be able to take it to a final possession.
DY Panther, Kajon Gordon-Stephens was the tournament MVP. He receives praise regularly, in part for his high flying abilities and above the rim finishes. In this tournament, Gordon-Stephens has proven to be much more than an acrobat.
This 2018 prospect averaged 19.5 ppg in the playoff rounds of the tourny while playing defense with a relentless approach of stifling defenders.
Coach Mike Mackenzie was happy to see his lead guard grasp MVP honours and had this to say about him.
“He’s our captain and he puts the team on his shoulders. Kajon doesn’t shy away from pressure and loves to operate with the ball in his hands. He also happens to be our best defender.”
WIth d’Youville, they go eight deep in their rotation so it wouldn’t be right to shed light on only the MVP.
Doneal Kerr is always an option in the high post, helping them drag in help defenders and opening teammates up for open shots when he kicks out.
We saw this a lot in the second half when St. Roch had set up in a zone. Kerr was able to find guys on the wing as well as back door cuts.
Another role player include Terrel Simon, who has made drastic improvements since the NPH Showcase that he attended last summer, both from physical and skill level perspectives.
Brother of Iowa State alumni, Melvin Ejim, Deon is also an impactful piece as well. He is still harnessing his skills but currently uses his strength effectively against opponents.
On St. Roch’s side they matched up well athletically and with size, however were unable to execute in half-court sets.
One team executed on plays while the other ran in transition, St. Roch was all transition.
A lot of the Ravens offense came from Shamar Givance’s ability to take defenders off the dribble. A quick first step forced a help defender and gave him looks at open teammates.
Givance’s toughness stood out in this game, knowing that he was banged up from the playoff round and had cramped up in the third quarter of the finals. He was in mind over matter mode and played through cramps.
He finished with 14 points and played with a poise that reflected onto his teammates in this close game.
Ravens two guard Joshua Palmer had a strong fourth quarter where he scored seven of his 17 points by taking it to the rack aggressively and getting to the line for free throws.
ROPSAA rival St. Roch came back twice from a 10 point deficit but could not take a lead in the fourth quarter, finishing second at Xavier Rimrocker.
The Ravens and Panthers wont meet again until ROPSAA finals where they both hope to be in February. For now both teams will continue their seasons carrying a perfect regular season record.