Team beats Saint Paul Patriots in SOSSA AAA final
The Saltfleet Storm senior boys basketball team is heading to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAA championships for the first time in more than three decades.
Saltfleet beat the Niagara Falls Saint Paul Patriots 63-43 in the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association AAA final last Friday at Notre Dame College School in Welland. The Storm lost to Saint Paul in its last SOSSA AAA final appearance 10 years ago, when the Patriots rallied to victory with less than 30 seconds to play in the game.
“I’m very proud of the team and in the basketball world, this is a very big deal for Saltfleet,” Storm head coach David Ormerod said. “It’s nice to get a little payback, but (Saint Paul) head coach Frank Capretta is a good friend of mine, so it is bittersweet. We had a great team 10 years ago and that was a very tough loss, but this will help erase that bad memory.”
Saltfleet got off to a slow start and was trailing Saint Paul for most of the first half.
The Storm went up 26-22 just two minutes before halftime and then took their energy and defensive play to another level in the second half to secure the win. Saltfleet’s Nick Pett led the way in scoring with 26 points, with Darnell Curtin also pitching in 10 points.
“There was a key basket at the end of the first half by Nicola Djogo off a great pass from Woods Brown,” Ormerod said. “Full court pressure to start the second half by the entire team led to lots of turnovers and fast break layups. We played extremely hard and our depth wore them out.”
Saltfleet advanced to the SOSSA AAA final, after defeating the St. Catharines Governor Simcoe Redcoats 69-51 in the semifinal last Thursday at Notre Dame. The Storm qualified for SOSSA because they were the furthest advancing AAA high school, having upset all other AAA teams.
Saltfleet lost to the Sir Allan MacNab Lions 57-41 in the Hamilton-Wentworth Interscholastic Athletic Council division one championship on Feb. 14 at McMaster University, after beating the Westmount Wildcats 67-41 in the semifinals and Highland Hawks 74-61 in the quarter-finals. The Storm finished the regular season atop the east conference standings with a 13-1 record. The team also scored first-place finishes at the 13th annual Ken Ormerod Memorial Tip-off and Kitchener Resurrection tournaments.
“To go into a high calibre event and to win both (SOSSA) games by 20 points was way more than I could have expected,” Ormerod said. “I’m really proud of the way the team bounced back from a tough loss in the (city) championship. It shows that we have some quality players.”
Ormerod said Saltfleet’s experience overall on the court this season has helped prepare the Storm for OFSAA, taking place March 3 to 5 at Notre Dame.
“Our overall team record is 29-7,” he said. “Six of those losses went to other teams around the province that are all advancing to OFSAA AAAA. Our tough schedule that coach (Jim) Weatherbee set up should really help us going forward.”
Ormerod said he doesn’t know Saltfleet’s ranking yet going into OFSAA, but assumes the Storm should be among the top five with 16 teams set to participate in the event.
Saltfleet’s biggest challenge at OFSAA will be getting over initial nerves and staying consistent throughout the tournament, he added.
“We have to play five good games in a row to win it against some of the top teams in the province,” Ormerod said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. If we play well and get lucky, we may just have a chance.”