Volume 12 Week 5

Monday, Nov. 20


 

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(Posted 6:30 a.m., March 1)
Lester B. Panthers win junior boys Tier 1 hoops championship
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Luis Puente scored a game high 23 points in the Lester B. Panthers 56-53 win over the Merivale Marauders in the NCSSAA junior boys Tier 1 basketball championship on Thursday. Fred Sherwin/Photo


The Lester B. Pearson Panthers outhustled and outlasted the Merivale Marauders to win the NCSSAA junior boys Tier 1 basketball championship on Thursday and finish the season with a perfect 13-0 record.

The two evenly matched teams spent the first quarter feeling each other out and by the end of the first eight minutes the score was tied 9-9.

The second quarter was a lot more high scoring as the two teams combined for 35 points, including six three-point bombs, but by the end of the first half the two teams were separated by just a point with Merivale on top.

The third stanza was almost an instant replay of the second quarter, only it was the Panthers who outscored the Marauders 18-17 and with one quarter left to play the score was all tied up 44-44.

The fourth quarter developed into a titanic defensive battle as neither team was willing to give the other anyntime or space to get off a decent shot. After two minutes the score was still tied 46-46.

Muhammed Kabeya hit a jump shot to put the Panthers up by two with four minutes left to go in the game, but the Marauders responded with a basket of their own to tie the game yet again.

With the score knotted at 48-48, Luis Puente hit another three-point shot and the Panthers forced a turnover on the Marauders ensuing possession which Kabeya quickly converted into an easy layup, and just like that, Lester B. was up by five.

The pesky Maruaders responded yet again, however, with Umed Hyder sinking his third three point bucket of the game and Su Pu Plet draining a pair of free throws to tie the score at 53 points apiece.

As the final minute ticked down, Devon McDonald made a huge offensive rebound and scored a basket to put the Panthers up for good. Puente added a free throw with nine seconds left, forcing the Marauders to throw up a desperation shot in the final seconds which caught nothing but air.

The win was even more impressive given the fact that all but three of the Panthers are in Grade 9 and they were playing in front of about 50 or 60 raucus Marauder fans in the Merivale High School gym.

Panthers head coach Dan Stern said the Marauders gave his squad all they could handle and then some.

"I've never been part of something so exciting in my life. Both teams played their hearts out," said Stern. "Fortunately we've been in a couple of situations where the score was close let in the game and we learned from those experiences.

Puente led all scorers with a game high 23 points. Kabeya added 15, including three three-point shots, McDonald had 10 points and Jordan Corcoran had six.

Both Puente and Kabeya are in Grade 9, which means they will be back to try and defend their title next year.

Stern says the two players pushed each other all season and will likely continue to do so for the next four years.

"If they stick with it they should do a lot of special things at Lester B.," said Stern.

Both players said they had trouble getting in the paint against the Marauders collapsing defence, but they made up for it by hitting their outside shots.

"Yeah, I was feeling it. I was a bit nervous at first, but Muhammed helped get me into the game and started hitting my shots," Puente said after the game.

The Lester B. Pearson Panthers pose for a photo with the championship trophy after winning the junior boys high school basketball championship on Thursday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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