Connections and threads at Silver Fox
Plenty of big names from local basketball history at popular tournament
Hamilton’s sporting past was noticeably intertwined with its present and future as one of this city’s annual athletic cornerstones tipped off Thursday morning.
The Saltfleet Storm, playing at their home gym, started well, sagged, then ended well to defeat Brampton’s St. Roch Ravens, 66-62, in the opening round of the 46th Teachers Life Silver Fox Basketball Tournament. The two-day tournament, featuring 16 top senior boys teams, is being played at both Saltfleet and Glendale.
The Storm was the last local boys high school team to win a provincial championship when current Notre Dame redshirt Nikola Djogo led them to the 2013 AAA OFSAA title. The current Storm is undefeated, 11-0, in the Hamilton public league, but face legitimate challengers Sir Allan MacNab and Ancaster each once more when league play resumes after the weekend.
Saltfleet is coached by Dave Ormerod of the famous Hamilton basketball family.
His father, Ken, was a local coaching legend and coached his son at Scott Park before Dave went on to lead the 1991 Western Mustangs to the first Canadian men’s basketball championship in school history. Dave’s son, Nolan, is in Grade 9 playing on Saltfleet’s junior team, and Thursday, he was manning the admission desk at the Silver Fox tourney.
“Jim (Weatherbee, the tournament director) has done a nice job of honouring people like my dad and Joe Raso (former St. Mary’s and Mac coach),” says Ormerod, who played in the Silver Fox for Scott Park “a million years ago, when the big names were Runneymede, George Harvey, teams like that.”
And playing major minutes for the Storm this year is Rickey Morrison, son of well-known body builder Michelle Morrison. His father is Rickey Foggie, who quarterbacked the Tiger-Cats in 1997, along with Anthony Calvillo, and was at the helm of a high-octane Toronto Argonauts offence a few years earlier.
Morrison had 10 points in the opening-round victory over St. Roch’s (Andrew Bartlett led the Storm with 21), and is really only in his second year of elite basketball, while a large number of players in the Silver Fox have been playing rep for a decade or more, and high school for two or three years.
“I got cut from the junior team in Grade 9 and in Grade 10, so during the summers I went to a trainer in Niagara Falls, Mihai Raducanu,” Morrison said.
“I made the senior team last year in Grade 11, but played less than two minutes a game, so to build my athleticism I started working out again.
“I never really considered football, I love basketball. In Grade 9, the guys were OFSAA gold medallists and I just wanted to be part of that. When I got cut, it actually motivated me more to play here.”
Raducanu, it should be mentioned, is also part of Hamilton hoops history, having led Cathedral to an OFSAA championship.
Morrison will be back at Saltfleet next season as will a number of his Storm teammates. He wants to round his game into strong enough form to play university ball.
“He’s a really good kid who listens,” says Ormerod. “I think whatever sport he wanted to play he’d be good at. He’s athletic. But he’s raw and he needs to play more. He hasn’t played at this level. But he’s one of the guys the university scouts ask about because you see flashes of some things that others can’t do.”
Ormerod says Storm players aren’t big but are athletic, “and we go about 10 or 12 deep. With the exam break, we haven’t had a game in a couple of weeks and I think we feel that. But all the teams in this tournament are in the same boat.
“This is a good tournament, win or lose, because you’re always going to get good games. That’s what we need: three or four good games as we get into the final part of our season.”
The Silver Fox took a late hit from one of the rising irritations in provincial high school basketball: the Ontario prep school explosion. Two of the leading players for No. 3 ranked Niagara Falls St. Paul, brothers Sefa and Asare Otchere, have recently transferred to an academy in Brantford and aren’t here.
The championship final, between the two remaining undefeated teams of the tournament will be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Saltfleet. The “flight” finals — flight makeup is determined when the teams have their first lost — are set for Glendale at 3 p.m., and Saltfleet at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
One of those flights is named for Ken Ormerod.
For up-to-date results, consult the tournament website: silverfoxbball.blogspot.ca.
When I got cut, it actually motivated me more to play here. RICKEY MORRISON SALTFLEET STORM
Cardinal Newman’s Maleik Gordon goes up and around a Brantford North Park CVS player during first-day action at the 46th Silver Fox tournament Thursday at Glendale Secondary School. Newman beat North Park, 57-37. Play continues Friday with games at Glendale and Saltfleet high schools. The tournament final is at 7:30 p.m. at Glendale.
Saltfleet’s Jahmal Burke and Andrew Bartlett apply heavy defence in their game against Sarnia on Thursday night. Saltfleet won, 56-54.