After coming up short in two other finals appearances (Humber Classic, FHC Early Bird) Vaughan has taken care of business and taken their first tournament championship of the year on home floor, having defeated a 17-0 Bishop Reding Royals in the semi and then easily handling Clarkson Academy 72-51 in the finals.
The Vaughan Voyageurs gave both Bishop Reding and Clarkson Academy their worst games of the season by playing a smothering defense with hard closeouts and timely help side rotations. Against Bishop Reding they were well matched to play man defense and then switched to zone to defend a bigger and more athletic Clarkson.
Bishop Reding got their first true test and were stunned by the Vaughan Voyageurs in a semi-final matchup. The Voyageurs held the Royals to only 12 points at halftime. Xavier Ochu gave the Royals a little boost but it wasn’t enough to come back.
Andrew Nembhard limped away on a sprained ankle near the end of the fourth quarter in the semi and would not return for the final. It does not seem like anything serious. It shouldn’t be more than a max of one to two weeks before he’s back.
Tournament MVP Kordeiro James commented on the absence of their lead guard and facilitator.
“Andrew does everything for us, he sets the tempo, handles pressure and can score pretty much anytime he wants.”
Yes, that sums it up. Nembhard is the best player in the country as it stands regardless of position or graduating year. He remains grounded regardless of the buzz and notoriety surrounding his name and early success.
While supporting from the bench in the game against Clarkson, he remained to be a leader; shouting directions and tips at teammates and encouraging guys coming off the bench and instilling confidence. The intangibles match and live up to his status as top PG.
O’ Shane Taylor Douglas took care of the ball and set up his teammates all game in the finals, finishing with 11 points and seven assists.
Kordeiro James pitched in with 13 points on his way to picking up tournament MVP. This senior has improved his ball handling and will look to make an impact at the next level whether that be in the CIS or NCAA next season. As a combo guard he’s equipped wit the ball handling and three point shooting to either set up himself or teammates or catch and shoot with accuracy off the swing.
Midway through the third quarter James picked up a steal and exploded at the rim for a one hand jam that got the full gym on their feet and ignited their bench. James has been consistent and reliable as a senior for Vaughan.
The University of Toronto is heavy on his trail along with other high academic programs from the CIS.
William Tran had a game high 17 points and overall very efficient weekend.
Coach Claude Nembhard wasn’t surprised by Tran’s performance last night.
“William Tran is highly skilled and his effort determines his minutes, we just need to see more consistency from him. I know what he’s capable of and I’m not surprised when he has these kind of games. He’s been good for me since grade five.”
He continued, “With the injuries we had, we figured we got to use more of the guys, we’re trying to get them all experience so that they’re ready at all times. Last night we saw Jahcobi and Evyn step up and hit some big shots and make some stops.”
Making stops against Clarkson Academy means that Vaughan defenders are chasing them down in transition. Run and gun basketball is something Clarkson does very well, but Vaughan was able to neutralize them with their speed. From warm ups and what the eyes can see, most would think that Clarkson would have out-rebounded Vaughan but that wasn’t the case. The physicality Vaughan has been playing with shows signs of evolution since the FHC Early Bird.
Vaughan rebounds by committee due to a lack of size and no one that plays the center position. Off ball movement whether playing five out offense or four out and Joseph Thomas in the high post, there’s perpetual motion and purpose in every movement.
Clarkson was forced to call all their timeouts as sophomore guard Jahcobi Neath came off the bench and finished a tough take at the rim with two defenders in his face. That bucket would give Vaughan a 20 point lead at the end of the third.
Clarkson Academy’s Isaiah Wilson and Eliel Nsoseme showed glimpses of revival for their team but too late in the game when it was no longer in reach.
Vaughan is one of the best perimeter shooting teams in the country and on the opposite end Clarkson is among the worst. They must improve in this regard to change up the identity of this team’s makeup in order for them to be successful against quality teams.
For Vaughan, they head to Montreal this weekend for an annual trip to the #SunYouthInvitational, which North Pole Hoops will be at as well, tracking talent from both Quebec and Ontario.
On a National level the number one spot currently sits with Father Henry Carr but this Vaughan team is not the same squad that lost to FHC twice earlier in the season.
Look out for NPH’s National Top 25 Team Rankings coming out during the Christmas Break.
Fresh On The Scene
Pine Ridge’s Shakael Pryce made an impact this weekend as he was brought up from playing against 9th and 10th graders to give him some senior experience.
Head Coach of the Pine Ridge Pumas, Cam Nekkers saw something in Pryce while watching the younger group in practice.
“He had this old man head on him, he looked wise among the rest and just did all the right things.”
There was no sense of nervousness coming off of his body language. Shak is very comfortable handling the ball and has a wide crossover to breakdown his man.
What struck me is how well he uses his length on the defensive end. This picture above shows his stance, which was consistent on countless possessions.
Most defenders simply shadow the ball handler, but Shak Pryce dictated which way he wanted him to go and reached for steals at the right moment. He’s calculative and deceptively quick.
Coach Nekkers added, “this is better for his development to play against older and stronger competition. Outside a clear physical deficiency in terms of strength, there isn’t really any weakness that limits him from playing at this level.”
To add, Pryce is aware that adding physical strength would help him tremendously and has a plan to focus on this area in the off-season.
“I think I can earn more minutes on this team but I just have to be stronger and play with a high level of confidence. Against guys my age I don’t have an issue, but against this level it takes more out of you so I need to also be more conditioned.”
An above 80 academic average, a high IQ and a mature personality. Pine Ridge’s future at PG looks good.
While Jordan Henry currently man’s the point, Pryce will look to him for guidance as he transitions to play with older competition. Coaches keep tabs on Pryce…I think we got something here.