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High School Basketball
St. Matt's Tigers on top of the world after winning provincial hoops championship
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The St. Matthew Tigers senior boys basketball team celebrate after winning the All-Ontario 'AAA' basketball championship at Lisgar Collegiate High School Wednesday night. Fred Sherwin/Photo


The St. Matthew Tigers are the All-Ontario 'AAA' senior boys provincial basketball champions, a feat they accomplished Wednesday night when they clipped the Emery Eagles 57-47 in front of close to 100 screaming fans at Lisgar Collegiate High School.

The Tigers' 45th victory of the season was the biggest win in the school's history as they became the first team from St. Matt's to win a provincial championship. The senior girls basketball team came close to accomplishing the feat in 2001, but they ended up having to settle for a silver medal.

It was the Tigers third trip to the seniors boys OFSAA tournament -- they qualified in 2004 and 2006, but failed to make the semi-finals -- proving yet again that the third time is the charm.

When asked what the difference was the third time around, Tigers head coach Jason Wren said simply, talent and teamwork.

"I still can't believe how good this team really is. They do everything really well. We can go inside to the big guys, or we can hit shots from the perimeter. Our stongest asset is our team play," said Wren.

Those sentiments were echoed by the team's top three scorers who had just played their last game in a Tigers uniform. Tyson Hinz, Kyle Ring and Garnet Blais are all graduating this year as are Scott Ring, Jeremy Leonard-Smith, Cyril Babaloa and Robert Anatasov.

"We just have so many weapons," said Blais who is the only fifth year senior on the team. "At any point, at anytime someone can step and score 20 points."

While many of his teammates won a junior city championship in 2007, Blais was in his first year on the senior squad which was in the process of rebuilding after winning the senior title in 2006. Last year, they made it to the semi-finals of the city championships before being knocked out by Colonel By.

That loss would be the fuel that fed Tigers' fire on their incredible run to the OFSAA final. They were 40-1 heading into the tournament, with their only loss coming in the second round of the All-Catholic provincial championships last month.

The top-seeded Tigers posted convincing wins over St. Joseph's Catholic High School and Bawating Collegiate in the early rounds before taking care of Oakridge Secondary School in the quarterfinals to qualify for the Final Four.

After a rough first half against Martingrove Collegiate in the semi-finals Wednesday morning, the Tigers bounced back to win 57-52 and earn a berth in the gold medal game.

Having fallen behind early in their previous games, the Tigers were determined to get off to a good start against Emery and did so, sinking their first four shots from the floor and adding a pair of free throws to take an 11-6 lead.

Kyle Ring's second three point basket of the quarter would extend the Tigers lead to 16-8. Down at the other end of the court, big Anthony Ottley (32) did his best to keep the Eagles in the game. He scored all 10 of Emery's first quarter points, including a trey, and hauled down four rebounds.

The second quarter was pretty much a stalemate between the two teams, although the Tigers were eventually able to add to their lead. Scott Ring's basket at the end of the first half would give the Tigers an 11 point advantage heading into the break.

As play resumed in the third quarter, the Eagles went on an 11-2 run to pull to within two points of St. Matt's. They eventually narrowed the deficit to just a point before Hinz set Blais up for a basket inside and then drained a pair of free throws to give the Tigers a five point cushion heading into the final quarter of play.

A pair of baskets by Hinz and Jeremy Leonard-Smith to start the fourth quarter extended the Tigers' lead to nine points. They led by as much as 14 points in the quarter before Kadeem Francis hit back-to-back treys in the final minute to narrow the deficit to 10, which is how the game ended.

After the official post game ceremony and trophy presentation, the Tigers were allowed to cut down the net one player at a time. As the only fifth year player on the team, Blais had the honour of cutting down the rest of the net after everyone else had taken a piece.

"This is even sweeter than I thought it would be" said Blais who led the team in rebounds in the final with seven and scored 11 points. "The best thing is that we did it with the group of guys we had. It's been amazing."

Point guard Scott Ring has been the floor general on three different Tigers teams since grad seven. Winning the provincial championship was the perfect ending to an impressive high school career.

"I'm so ecstatic. It's such a great feeling. We wanted to win in Ottawa. We wanted to win in front of our fans. It really is a perfect ending," said Ring.

St. Matthew Tigers
FG
3-PT
FT
REB
A
S
BLK

PTS

Tyson Hinz
9-12
0
5-6
5
3
0
0
23
Kyle Ring
4-7
3
2-2
4
2
0
0
13
Garnet Blais
5-11
0
1-5
7
3
0
1
11
Scott Ring
1-4
0
4-6
2
2
1
0
6
Jeremy
Leonard-Smith
1-2
0
2-2
5
0
2
0
4
Gavin Resch
0-1
0
0-0
0
0
0
1
0
Team totals
20-37
3
14-21
23
10
3
2
57

Emery Eagles
FG
3-PT
FT
REB
A
S
BLK

PTS

Anthony Ottley
9-16
2
0-0
12
0
0
1
20
Kadeem Francis
6-14
2
3-3
2
0
0
0
17
Khalid Wilson
2-5
1
2-4
2
0
0
1
7
Robert Clarke
1-6
1
0-0
2
0
0
0
3
Nathan Wright
0-3
0
0-0
1
0
0
0
0
Team totals
18-45
6
5-7
20
0
0
2
47

(Posted 9 a.m., March 12)

 

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