Saints win Silver Fox
Three Hamilton teams made the semifinals, but it was the one outsider in the Final Four that walked away with the 46th Annual Teachers Silver Life Fox Invitational title.
And the drought for local teams in the city’s premier senior high school boys basketball tournament has reached 16 years, and counting.
The top-ranked St. Benedict Saints rode strong starts to each half to defeat Cardinal Newman Cardinals, 55-49, in a tense, physical, Silver Fox final at Saltfleet District High School Friday night.
Saltfleet Storm won the bronze medal game, 57-48, over Cathedral Gaels.
The Cardinals were the first local team to make the Silver Fox championship game in five years.
Bishop Tonnos of Ancaster lost the 2012 final to Oakville’s St. Ignatius of Loyola. They were trying to become the first Hamilton-area school to win the Silver Fox overall title since the 2001 St. Thomas More Knights, led by MVP John Abravac, beat Burlington Nelson in the final.
Instead, St. Benedict became the first winner from Cambridge, and with their fifth tournament title of this season, are likely to be an upper-echelon seed at OFSAA, assuming they get there.
Zubair Seyed, the Saints’ guard who dominated the tournament and led all scorers in the final with 25 points, was the tourney MVP.
“I thought we held on all right, right to end,” said Cardinal Newman’s Goran Viselinovic, who had an outstanding tournament, was named the best defensive player of the 16-team event, and led the Cardinals with 19 points in the final.
“They’re a good team, and it hasn’t gone our way when we play them. But it’ll be different next time.”
The final was a rematch of the championship game of the prestigious Heinbuch Classic in Waterloo in late November, which St. Benedict also won. But this time, Cardinal Newman was missing guard Maleik Gordon, their best player, who was hurt in the semifinal victory over Hamilton Catholic league rival Cathedral.
But St. Benedict also lost an important cog in their engine when six-foot-ten centre Evan Rodenburg was sidelined early in the final by a back injury, altering the lowpost equation.
The Cardinals dug themselves into a 13-2 deficit in the first quarter, but sped up their half-court defence and clawed themselves out of that hole and took a lead.
The high-spirited affair was tied 26-26 at the half.
The Saints sprinted out of the blocks quickly again in the second half and entered the final quarter up 43-36, enough cushion to come home as champions.
Cardinal Newman reached the final with a 58-49 victory over Cathedral in the championship semifinal after dispatching Timmins 56-37 and North Park 57-37.
St. Benedict’s route included victories over Peterborough’s Adam Scott, Collingwood, and Saltfleet, in a game they broke open in the final four minutes.
Hamilton’s Sir Allan MacNab Lions lost 70-54 to Sarnia Northern in the Joe Raso flight final.
The tournament’s first all-star team comprised Viselinovic and Tyrell Hebert from the Cardinals and the Saints’ Seyed, Jake Polski and Justin Malneric.
Newman’s Nick Rakas won the Silver Fox three-point shooting contest.
I thought we held on all right, right to end. GORAN VISELINOVIC CARDINAL NEWMAN
Cardinal Newman’s Maleik Gordon looks to drive the ball past Cathedral’s Zanyah Jones during the semifinal win Friday. The win set up Newman’s final with St. Benedict.
Cardinal Newman’s Tyrell Herbert was manhandled as he went up for a shot against Cathedral’s Zanyah Jones and Kionte Collins, who blocked his shot.