Vaughan has successfully given the Father Henry Carr Crusaders their first loss of the season on the high school scene at the St. Michael’s Dan Prendergast Invitational Presented by Nike.
The Vaughan Voyageurs had previously jotted down two losses to FHC before the holiday break; one at the Early Bird Classic in early November, and another one the following weekend at the Humber Classic.
FHC beat Vaughan by 17 points in one game and 13 in the other.
The losses were erased from memory, Vaughan played as if they had no recollection of those losses… That, or they played like they were out for revenge. The mistakes made by the Voyageurs in the finals of the SMC Invitational were minimal. They executed to perfection and had their foot on the gas the entire game.
Of all the teams in this tournament, no other squad was as disciplined, focused and determined as this group.
Kascius Small-Martin opened up the scoring spree for Vaughan but FHC made adjustments to guard him, so instead Vaughan fed the hot hand of senior guard Kordeiro James who ended up with 23 points and was followed by Small-Martin’s 13 and William Tran’s 18 points.
The top prospect on Canadian soil, Andrew Nembhard was zeroed in on and contained by FHC in terms of scoring but he had no issue pushing the ball up the middle of the floor and facilitating.
A majority of the scoring for the Voyageurs came in transition with smooth run outs into the open court.
Keep in mind, Nembhard went down with an ankle sprain before the holidays and this seems to have helped the team learn how to play without their star.
“They got to play without me, other guys got to handle the ball and set up our offense. So now with me back, if teams decide to key in on me, I know my guys can take care of the ball,” explained tournament MVP Nembhard.
Key piece for FHC, Shamar Bailey had a strong defensive presence not allowing much to happen in the paint, however his help side was a little slow to rotate. Carlo Dubria was also solid defending the ball and anticipating things happening in the passing lanes.
In the finals there flashes of life from FHC’s Carlo Dubria (15 points), Shae Linton-Brown (15 points) and Shamar Bailey (15 points, 4 blocks) through their individual efforts all in different quarters, but as a collective they could not get their offense going.
Mind you, this is the Crusaders first loss of the season to a high school team. They have been an intimidating opponent to most teams they played against because of their signature pressure style defense.
This may be a loss they needed to reignite the flame and take their game to the next level for the second half of the season. Up to this point they had been playing so well that they coasted at times in this tournament.
Vaughan coasted but in a different way. Their control over the game as a whole, over the clock and their awareness and spacing in half-courts sets makes them tough to stop. They score in bunches and make stops in the same fashion.
In the semifinal game against St. Michael’s they had a little scare as they let the host team back into the game in the fourth. After having as much as an 18 point lead they beat SMC by just three, 75-72. The closeness of this game was in part due to an ease of pressure from Vaughan and on other side a spark from Sam Rautins and Jahmal Abbey-Wright.
Moving forward, Vaughan is the team to beat, they will have a target on their back and the series between them and FHC is still in favour of the Crusaders are 2-1 against Vaughan.
Nembhard closed the post game interview saying, “We got OFSAA gold as the main goal, first we got to beat Thornlea in YRAA which is going to be a tough game and I’d like to play Pine Ridge because we haven’t faced them yet.”
Andrew Nembhard (Vaughan) – MVP
William Tran (Vaughan)
Shamar Bailey (Father Henry Carr)
Danilo Djuricic (St. Michael’s)
Jahmal Abbey-Wright (St. Michael’s)
Noah Kirkwood (Ashbury)
Full Tournament Scope
St. Michael’s Blue Raiders
They are in grave need of someone to step up at the guard position and man the point. There is an unnecessary amount of pressure weighing on Danilo Djuricic to carry the Blue Raiders.
Game tape will need to be utilized and the guards in the rotation will need to hold a meeting to discuss how they can improve. Between Inaki Alvarez, Sam Rautins, Kobey Lam and Matthew Zmija there is enough talent to get the job done; just a lack of patience and confidence that has thrown them off their game.
They have no significant wins against the top teams and are in a building stage where off ball movement is of priority to understand. There is no clear indication of who their go to producer is, or if there is one at all.
Going through stages of development and improving gradually.They have good size at all positions and a very heady guard in Noah Wharton who leads the pack and sets the table. They are getting good rebounding numbers from Jaden Bediako, who is a 6’10 center from the Canadian 2019 class. He is learning his body still and making attempts at aggressive takes to the basket. Two handed dunks, shot blocking, a good seal and a baby hook are all in his repertoire.
There’s a lack of consistency from the wings, but when they are all actively defending and running the floor this team plays very well. They came close to beating St. Michael’s and were in control for the majority of the game.
They go as far as Jeremiah Brown takes them. A fairly young team made up of 10th, 11th and few 12th graders. The youngins are adjusting to the strength and speed at the senior level. This team will be a lot better next season but will need signs of scoring from someone other than Brown as he graduates this year. That void will need to be filled starting now.
Heavily dependent on Jordan Henry for scoring and lately have got a lot of help from Darius Thorne as a secondary play maker and counterpart to Henry.
Thorne is able to breakdown defenders before getting to the rack with finesse and acrobatics combined. He is an athletic guard that can get wherever he wants on the floor.
It will be good to see off ball screen action from the remainder of the troops for the Pumas so that they can get back door cuts and scoring opportunities for Daniel Wright and Yannick Hannibal. These two guys work hard on the glass but aren’t involved much on the offense.
If the guards were to help Wright and Hannibal on box outs they would alleviate some of the rebounding responsibilities from the forwards and take away second and third chance opportunities.
This Toronto powerhouse came up short in this tournament losing to Pine Ridge in the quarter-final round 59-45. They are normally a gang rebound type of team but this is an area they struggled in during the course of the tournament.
The usual scoring came from Kadre Gray, Josis Thomas and Matey Juric on the perimeter. They will need to see more out of their forwards as the season progresses in order for them to compete consistently against the top teams.
The team from the Stoney Creek community in Hamilton brought a fundamental style that was fun to watch. No outstanding athletes or highly recruited basketball players, yet it is is a squad that beat up on St. Edmund Campion and then put up a fight against Father Henry Carr in the quarter finals, only losing by 12; and this was without the 6’6 presence of Tyrell Hubert who had baseball duties to attend to.
Hubert is a big time lefty pitcher who has a very promising future in baseball. He has already garnered attention from the staff of the MLB’s Boston Red Sox.
Goran Veselinovic, Josh Nardini and Anthony Torrison held it down in the absence Hubert as they picked apart the FHC defense. They just didn’t have enough gas to close out the game as fresh legs kept coming on for the Crusaders.
Veselinovic and Nardini gave the Cardinal Newman Cardinals some great pushes with some threes and off the dribble plays to get themselves to the free throw line.
Keith Laryea is making his mark on the season with his above the rim plays and overall scoring. He’s developed enough to take his man off the dribble, hit the three and of course drive the lane for some big dunks.
He gets Tyvell Peters, one of the main scoring options and a gritty defender. This team is coming together and getting stronger by the game. A good sense of accountability is present and that’s what will help them stay on course.
This team has yet to pick up a win against one of the top teams. They were eliminated by eventual champion Vaughan in a 61-43 loss.
Ashbury came into the tournament a little shook, while having to play the number one team in Father Henry Carr in the first round. They were not used to this level of competition and buckled early on. As the tournament went on in the consolation side they began to feel like they belonged.
The trio of Noah Kirkwood (Canada Cadet National Team), Lloyd Pandi and Owen Boisvert are a strong core with a good supporting cast around them.
Kirkwood’s skill level as a passer, ball handler and scorer keeps the defense honest at all times. They got it going in the consolation game against Crescent and would take that title.
This is a team that is still developing physically. In one year they will be a more formidable opponent in this tournament and are expected to come back.
St. Edmund Campion
Young and moldable. That is a good thing for Coach Omar Miles as he is able to get them to learn the nuances of the game and be effective when the ball is not in their hands.
They have the elite ball handling ability of Joel Brown who can breakdown his man off the dribble at will, but the team is trying not to depend on that too much and simply learn how to all be effective. They are not playing well at all right now, however will look different by season’s end and even more different if they all stay together for next season.
They don’t bring the same heat as the Pickering squad of years ago with Corey and Devoe Joseph. For these guys its about developing they’re next crop.
A young Tyvahl Saunders leads the break and gets in the lane for finishes. Saunders is an 11th grader who is smooth on the break, weaving through traffic before getting to the cup.
Tristen Miller sets up the offense and Manav Randawha was plugged in to knock in some threes. He is a player that I anticipate will get more playing time due to his efficiency, although he is a 2019 prospect.
Hamilton’s Cathedral has graduated all of their top scorers and are in a rebuilding stage. Bardhi Popaj is a returning senior that does not shy from the moment and is crafty in getting himself to the line.
Isaiah Parkinson had shown signs of productivity, yet he is a 2019 guard with pure upside. Among his own age group he’s a dangerous player, but among seniors he’s learning how to assert himself and earn respect. Cathedral is another young squad with a positive outlook for next season.
A member of the private school league in Ontario and a program that is building quickly under the guidance of Coach Ari Hunter.
The team plays unselfish and doesn’t get flustered easy under pressure due to the ball handling of senior guard Michael Palma. Palma has guys like Ryan Pinkney and Vasilije Vukmanovic who who take care of business on the glass and clean up around the hoop.
A 2019 wing in Joshua Hemmings is learning quickly and able to provide his services at multiple positions from 1-3. This is their year to make a mark in the Private School league as next year will be about bringing up the high level youngsters who have been introduced to this level of play.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you to Coach Jeff Zownir and the St. Michael’s Blue Raiders staff for having North Pole Hoops conduct the live stream and be apart of this prestigious tournament.