(WINDSOR, ON) The 61st edition of the University of Windsor’s, High school Boys Basketball Tournament crowned a new breed of basketball elite in this provincial crown jewel, when the King’s Christian Academy (of the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association) topped the Southwest Academy 59-52 in the title game. From the outset UWindsor Lancer, Chris Oliver stated “ with the recent trend towards specialty prep schools and sports academies, you will notice this tourney features both traditional high school programs and specialty academy schools” in the tournament program.
What he did not predict nor state was how dominant these prep / academy schools would be over the traditional high school teams. However it became apparent quickly on the opening night of the tournament this past Friday, at the Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse (formerly the St. Denis Centre) when the prep schools won all of there prelimenary games of the traditional competition that this need breeding grown of basketball talent is force to be reckoned with. Not to mention that they were the only show in town during the championship game.
For the champion King’s Cavaliers, sharpshooting Branko Damjonovich scored a game high 23 points, followed by teammates Aleks Novcic 15 points and Milan Rocnic’s 10 points. Double figure scorers for London’s Southwest Academy were Malachi Ndur (12 points) and Josiah Tynes (10 points).
To get an idea of what makes these prep schools capable of developing higher caliber players and programs, the King’s Academy is coach by Zelimir Stevanovic, I learned from the Cavaliers’ website that he has “an outstanding basketball pedigree as a former professional basketball player with more than 20 years of basketball experience both in the US and Europe. His basketball career began in Serbia and continued at the University of Pittsburg before he held professional contracts in France, Italy and Cyprus.”
As for the local senior boys cream of the crop, although a Windsor teams has not won top honors at this tournament for the past twelve years, Kennedy Collegiate of Windsor managed to handily win Saturday’s consolation final over Mother Theresa from the GTA 65-44. In doin so they nonetheless keep traditional basketball programs on the tournament radar for now. They also beat their crosstown rivals from Herman Collegiate 57-48 in the consolation semi-final earlier in the day.
In both contests the Clippers’ Marquis Lara Caston was high scorer in their consolation wins, landing 18 and 14 points respectively as the promising standout under the tutelage of very experienced coaches in Pat Osborne (Forster, Windsor) and Jeff Nekkers (Oshawa Oneil, Oshawa). Both former UWindsor Lancers and OUA all-stars. The former also being a 1989 tournament all-star and the later the 1985 tournament MVP when he transferred to Kennedy Collegiate.
“I learned alot from the competition from the prep school teams this weekend. there wasn’t a player that stood out for me but the way they executed there plays and fulfilled there roles was an eye opener for me and my team mates “said Lara-Caston. “Now we know what to expect and how to prepared to play them next time, if we meet them in the Provincials” he added.
What remains to be seen following the tournament’s championship outcome is whether or not the Cavaliers can go on to win the Windsor – OFSAA double. Whereby sixteen former Christmas tournament Champions went on to also win the top OFSAA provincial championship in the new year.