Gryphons bounce back into B fi­nal

Come-from-be­hind vic­tory sends Greater Fort Erie to con­so­la­tion fi­nal

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Sports - BERND FRANKE

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.

BOB TYMCZYSZYN THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

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.

BOB TYMCZYSZYN THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

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).

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