It has been a relatively quiet month with exam time putting basketball action to a halt across the country.
However, there are some key topics to discuss as we enter the home stretch prior to league playoff action kicking off in February.
Pickering Trojans Crack Top 25
Pickering High started their season late (in December) with Head Coach Mike Gordensky on double duty, taking the Trojan ladies to the OFSAA tournament. However, the boys have built a strong resume over the last two months.
The team has depth, speed and athleticism, made up of guards who play with heart. Pickering made their mark at the Mother Teresa Invitational, to jump into the #NPHTop25.
Lead by Todd Bryce and Julius Griffith, the team’s resume (17-5) is respectable, their five losses on the season coming against quality competition (Pine Ridge, St John Paul II, Vaughan, Bishop Reding, Eastern Commerce) – four of five are #NPHTop25 members.
Gordensky states that his team is hard to scout against because they go 12 and 13 deep and they work.
“Hard working from day one, I haven’t had a problem with their effort, they come to practice and games and work their ass off,”Gordensky tells North Pole Hoops.
This team knows that they can play with anyone in the province which was proved earlier this month, “These guys don’t fear anybody,” illustrated by a comeback after being down 14-0 to open against Eastern.
“I just think its a fine line, I want them to have confidence. You’ve proved that you can play with Eastern commerce, but you didn’t win. You can’t be complacent and think everything is good. You need to get in and work.”
Next up for Pickering is rival Pine Ridge next Thursday and then off to London, On for the H.B Beal tournament to defend their title.
All Eyes on Oak Park
We have been talking about it all season. Winnipeg’s Oak Park is coming to Ontario for the Silver Fox tournament.
Any time out of province teams collide, it provides us further perspective on where teams stack up on a national level.
“We usually go out west, so we’re excited to make this trip,” Oak Park Head Coach John Lundgren explained.
“We know we’re in for some tough games but I think our confidence level is where it should be…thats the good thing about playing higher level teams, it tests us.”
They are a top dog in Manitoba, but what does this really mean?
“Hopefully we’ll have those answers at the end of the tournament. There aren’t many games where we really get teste in Manitoba,”said Lundgren with an exception of KEC and Garden City.
6’9 Will Kohler, 6’8 Roger Milne, 6’3 William Sesam 6’5 Wyatt Tait and Nik Zorcic are featured on this Oak Park squad.
NOTE: Manitoba HS basketball is played with a high school shot clock. OP will have to make adjustments as they enter Ontario
Can Jaaden Lewis Revive Thornlea?
The Thornlea Thunder came out with a bang in the 2014-2015 season, picking up early key victories against Henry Carr, Campion (2 Top 10 teams) along with Holy Trinity (outside looking in).
Since their hot start, Thornlea has cooled off, in part due to their top dog Jaaden Lewis going down with an ankle sprain.
For the Silver Fox, Lewis, who has been out since Nov 29th, is back in action, and should take his squad to another level.
“He adds a scoring punch,” Thornlea Head Coach Shane James told North Pole Hoops.
The team averages between 65-70 with Lewis in the line up; without him, Thornlea is down to 45-50 PPG.
“He not only is a threat from the outside and in transition, but he’s also an inside threat with post ups and ability to crash boards,” continued James.
First up in the Silver Fox…the Oak Park Raiders.
Western Canada Tournament, Top Dogs Will Clash
British Columbia’s Top 5 haven’t been the same in the New Year as teams have been moving up and down the ladder for four straight weeks. Previous #1 ranked Terry Fox dropped a league game to current #2 Heritage Woods while Vancouver College took the top spot after winning the first of two rounds against Independent rival, St. George’s. With teams focused on regular season play and playoffs right around the corner, Kelowna is hosting a number of top teams from across Western Canada for the 2015 Interior Savings Western Canada Basketball Tournament. The following teams are either currently part of the #NPHTop25 or have spent some time hovering on the outside looking in; NPH #13 Leboldus, #14 Oak Park, Harry Ainlay and Bishop O’Byrne make the trek to the Okanagan next weekend.
The Fox could drastically shuffle up the #NPHTop25 with so many members taking part in this tournament.
Canadian National HS Rankings – Release #9
St Michael’s (Toronto, ON)
SJK (Kitchener, ON)
Campion (Brampton, ON)
Eastern Commerce (Toronto, ON)
Henry Carr (Toronto, ON)
St Francis (St. Catharines, ON)
Pine Ridge (Pickering, ON)
Oakwood (Toronto, ON)
Henry Bourassa (Montreal, QC)
D’Youville (Brampton, ON)
Corpus Christi (Burlington, ON)
Vaughan (Vaughan, ON)
Leboldus (Regina, SK)
Oak Park (Winnipeg, MB)
Saltfleet (Hamilton, ON)
Thornlea (Thornhill, ON)
St Marys (Kitchener, ON)
Bishop Reding (Milton, ON)
MacNab (Hamilton, ON)
Pickering (Ajax, ON)
Catholic Central (Windsor, ON)
Holy Trinity (Oakville, ON)
Father Goetz (Mississauga, ON)
Citadel (Halifax, NS)
Vancouver College (Vancouver, BC)
Outside Looking In
No shortage of teams to track! Below are those across the country that possess the talent, and capabilities of beating #NPHTop25 teams and climbing throughout the season. Wins & losses will ultimately dictate their future ranking.