Gryphons bounce back into B final
Come-from-behind victory sends Greater Fort Erie to consolation final
Niagara’s newest high school is already an old hand at making the most of second chances when a Standard High School Boys Basketball Tournament championship is on the line.
For the second time in their two-year history, the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons have advanced to the consolation final. Each time, they topped the St. Catharines Collegiate Saints in the semifinals, denying the Saints the chance to play for the B title on their home court.
The Gryphons continued defence of their consolation championship by coming from behind to defeat Collegiate 72-64 in thirdround action Thursday at Ridley College.
It was a game of two halves, with the Saints up 19-12 after one quarter of play and leading 40-31 at the half.
“They were banging us around,” Dave Adamek said. “It seemed every time they get two, three chances, they were nailing everything inside of three, four feet.
“That’s tough to do, we’re not a terribly big team.”
At halftime, Greater Fort Erie decided to speed things up in hopes of nullifying Collegiate’s size advantage.
“We figured let’s try and speed the game up a little bit, turn it into a little bit more of a track meet,” Adamek said. “Maybe, we can outrun these guys and, it turned out, we did.
“Once we sped it up, it looked like we got in stride and good things happened.”
A key contributor to the Gryphs’ comeback was Micah Stewart, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t find my stroke early, late in the game I found some drives, some open lanes that I could finish in,” said the Grade 10 student, who is playing in his second Standard Tournament.
“Obviously, I need to get better
in my shooting and being consistent that way.”
Greater Fort Erie’s fortunes started changing once the team began asserting itself on defence.
“Once we started applying pressure, and just adjusting to their style of play, we were able to keep our focus,” Stewart said.
Greater Fort Erie had hoped to advance on the championship side this time out but fell short in a 51-41 loss to the Ridley Tigers on opening day of the 16-team tournament.
“We were hoping to win the first game, but Ridley gave us a heck of a game the first night, and we came up on the short end of that,” Adamek said. “We’re starting to play some good ball now.”
Like his coach, Stewart would have preferred playing in the second game of a championship doubleheader at Collegiate.
“Definitely, we wanted to win the championship, but we’re trying to do the best we can in our position,” he said. “The consolation championship is the best thing we can do right now as a team.
“We’re going to aim for it, and go for it.”
Collegiate co-coach Allison Mauro gave the Gryphons full credit for the come-from-behind win.
“They came out pressing, and their press is pretty effective,” she said. “They came out with a very smart pressure game, which we just weren’t able to match.”
Mauro agreed it was a game of two halves.
“In the second half, the shots that usually just fall weren’t falling,” she said. “We had good looks, we had good shots, it just wasn’t going our way.
“It definitely was our game first half, their game second half.”
Austin Ladouceur, 24 points, and Ethan Vanatter, 12, also scored in double digits for the Gryphons.
Tykree Llewellyn, Jerrell Plumadore, Sheldon Brown paced the Saints in points with 26, 14 and eight, respectively.
Greater Fort Erie’s opponent in the B final, the Eden Flyers, defeated the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs 61-29 in the other consolation semifinal at Ridley.
Charlie Edgar, Trent Thorpe, 15 apiece; Peter Pilling, 10; Kersey Robinson, Luke Reinaerts, 8 each; topped Eden in scoring. Connor Johnson, 8; Noah Garnace, 6; Brendan Barker, 5; led Churchill in points.
Thursday night’s final on the championship side featured two teams that have combined for 18 titles in all, including 10 in the last 13 years.
The two-time defending champion Saint Francis Phoenix came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed seeking its third championship in a row and eighth overall.
Hoping to win for the 12th time in the program’s history and first since 2010 were the second-seeded Governor Simcoe Redcoats.
Neither Saint Francis’s thirdround opponent, the Welland Centennial Cougars, nor Simcoe’s, the Blessed Trinity Thunder, has yet to win the overall championship at the Standard Tournament. Blessed Trinity won the B final in 2006.
Results were unavailable at press time, but summaries are posted online at stcatharinesstandard.ca, niagarafallsreview.ca, wellandtribune.ca.
Action wraps up Friday at St. Catharines Collegiate, where the consolation final tips off at 5:30 p.m.; the championship game, 7:45 p.m.
Greater Fort Erie’s Ethan Vanatter tries to strip the ball from Collegiate’s Joseph Waterman in Standard High School Boys Basketball Tournament action Thursday.
Greater Fort Erie Secondary School Gryphons and St. Catharines Collegiate Saints in Day 3 of play during the Standard High School Boys Basketball Tournament at the Ridley College gym. Tykree Llewellyn (15) lays up a shot over Donovan Morgan (21).