By Ian Shalapata
(WINDSOR, ON) – A grand announcement was made yesterday by the Windsor Express and WECCSSA co-convener Pete Cusumano. On 23 February WECSSAA, in partnership with the Express, will host the boys basketball finals for both the Tier I and Tier II juniors and seniors at the East End Arena. A day of high school championship basketball will then be capped with Windsor playing host to the Moncton Miracles in the evening.
With an opportunity to play on a professional court, Express President and CEO Dartis Willis is hopeful that lasting memories will be created for the players.
“We want to ensure that we provide a good example, that we provide the opportunities wherever we can, and that we support every element of basketball in this city.” Willis said.
Express head coach Bill Jones relayed memories of when he played in three city championship games as a member of Southwestern High School. The games were played at Cobo Hall in the early 1980’s and even after playing in the NBA, Jones says they are memories that have stayed with him over all these years.
“I know that the kids will have a great time and it’ll be a great experience for them to play in a facility like the WFCU Centre,” he said. “It’ll be a great experience that they will have throughout their lives. It will be a great day of basketball.”
The co-mingling of the WECCSSA tournament with a pro basketball team has not happened in the past. Traditionally the finals have been held on their own at either St Clair College or in the St Dennis Centre at the University of Windsor. Because of that, the idea wasn’t initially an easy sell.
When Willis approached Cusumano, who is also the head coach at Catholic Central, with the idea, the high school coach wasn’t sure it could be pulled off.
“This is unique for us and I think it is great for our kids,” Cusumano said, “When we started talking to Dartis about this, he wouldn’t let this go. He was adamant that we were going to get this to work out and it did. We decided we were going to come here instead [of the university or college]. If it does works out, we’d love to come back.”
Tickets for the four high school finals are available for just $4 for adults and $2 for students. Fans can then purchase a corresponding voucher to receive discounted tickets for the NBL game between the Express and the Moncton Miracles at 7 pm the same evening.