St Mike’s is playing on another level right now.
If their 14-0 record coming into the SMC Invitational wasn’t enough evidence, the Blue Raiders ran through the competition at their home tournament, winning by an average margin of 33 points, including blowout victories against three #NPHTop25 members– #20-ranked Holy Trinity 78-48, #3 St Edmund Campion 67-46 and #7 Henry Carr 79-46 in the championship.
St Mike’s now sits at 18-0 in Canada and 8-1 in the U.S for a 26-1 overall record on the season.
The team’s only loss comes against Roman Catholic, #1 in Philadelphia–and a Top 25 team in America, according to Max Preps.
Those in attendance at the SMC Invitational enjoyed watching crisp ball movement, strong chemistry and beautiful team basketball.
When the head of the snake Nelson Kaputo is on the run and the Blue Raiders accurately space out the floor, it’s clockwork.
“I think hes been fantastic this year, he has really matured as a player and person..his comfort level on the floor as a leader speaks to that,” SMC Head Coach Jeff Zownir told North Pole Hoops, referring to Kaputo.
Every player on the floor is a threat from the outside, giving the opposition little room for error, however Kaputo is the engine that makes this machine run at 100.
“He doesn’t have to score for us to be effective. This team tends to pass and distribute the ball so well, it’s so diffcult to guard us because we have so many weapons,” said Zownir.
Nik Paradina was making his case for top sniper in the 2015 class, the 6’5 shooter has a quick trigger and has been shooting it with great efficiency.
Defensively, Kaion Julien-Grant is the anchor on the perimeter, that guards multiple positions and sets the tone for the Blue Raiders.
“He’s a lockdown defender and to be a champioship team it starts on defense…Kaion does whatever he can to help the team,” explained Zownir.
On the inside, Danilo Djuricic is precise, intelligent and calculated, which he illustrated in his shotblocking, while maintaining a demeanour that does not change. Never too high, never too low–machine-like in his approach.
Toronto Raptors’ Centre Jonas Valanciunas was in attendance calling the starting line ups putting on his best Drake impression, and even throwing up the jump ball–not a ceremonial jump, the official jump ball!
JV did a masterful job of swiftly getting his 7’0 presence off the court after the tip…we almost didn’t recognize him in those bright red pants.
St Mikes takes on Saint John’s Kilmarnock on Tuesday, January 13.
In round one earlier this season, the Blue Raiders came out with the 61-54 victory over SJK.
Round two won’t only be a highly anticipated private league battle, but it will also match up the #1 team in the country against #2.
“We talked about it last week and know its a tough part of our schedule, we talked about it after the celebration and our guys will be prepared, we won’t be taking them lightly.”
Tournament All-Stars & Awards
MVP: Nelson Kaputo
Danilo Djuricic (St Mikes)
Kaion Julien-Grant (St Mikes)
John Akende (Henry Carr)
Fowzi Mohamoud (Vaughan)
CJ Bennett (Campion)