By Larry Moko
For the first time in the 10-year history of the Mark Walton Invitational high school basketball tournament the host Cathedral Gaels made it to the final.
That’s the good news. The bad news is Cathedral lost the championship game, 50-47, in overtime Saturday against Oakville’s Holy Trinity Titans.
The Gaels, defending champion of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league, clung to a 42-39 lead when Max Campanelli of the Titans forced an extra four-minute period by connecting from outside the arc with 2.1 seconds remaining.
Cathedral then had an opportunity of its own to tie in waning seconds of OT. From an sideline inbound pass with 2.2 seconds on the clock, a Gaels three-point shot attempt failed to find the mark at the buzzer.
“We let it slip away, plain and simple,” Cathedral coach Luca Fortino said. “We had the lead by three late in the game and we left the shooter wide open in the corner. It was bad situational basketball. We’ve got to learn from it.”
Both teams were in the bonus by the end of the fourth quarter and Holy Trinity took advantage by making four consecutive free throws.
“They are a good foul-shooting team,” Fortino said. “That put us behind the 8-ball early. We were just playing catch up the rest of the way.”
Zach Powell was the leading scorer for Cathedral with 11 points. Kionte Collins followed with nine – and four dynamic blocks. Nathan Bilamu added eight points and Mark Cadet chipped in with six.
For the Titans, Dante Richards and tournament Most Valuable Player selection Anthony Briscoe netted 15 and 14 points, respectively.
“The guys did a good job on our own boards,” Holy Trinity coach Andrew Saulez said. “They (the Gaels) are tough and physical but we limited them to very few second-chance points. And we hit some big shots.”
Eight teams took part in the two-day event with the bronze medal going to the St. Benedict Saints of Cambridge. The Saints earned third spot with a 49-43 victory over the St. Thomas More Knights.
The First All-Star team was comprised of Bilamu and Malcolm Maganda of the Gaels along with Ben Mascarenhas of St. Benedict and Jojo Lingisi of St. Thomas More.
Second-Team selections were: Tyreik Lennox (Bishop Ryan); Andrew Loyuk (Windsor Kennedy); Justin Ching (St. Benedict); Jayden Grange (Pine Ridge); David Jones (Welland Notre Dame).
Earlier this season at Holy Trinity’s tournament, Cathedral won the championship and defeated the Titans by six points. So far, the Gaels have been to four tournaments and have reached the final on each occasion.
Last season, at the AAA level of OFSAA, Cathedral won the bronze medal.
“We have a very deep bench,” Fortino said. “We have a strong chance this year of being a very competitive team with everybody – Hamilton and beyond.”
Day 1 scores from the 2018 Walton Invitational: More 49 St. Benedict 48; Pine Ridge 65 Bishop Ryan 37; Holy Trinity 65 Kennedy 53; Cathedral 77 Notre Dame 53; More 74 Bishop Ryan 60; Cathedral 66 Kennedy 54; St. Benedict 63 Pine Ridge 56; Holy Trinity 57 Notre Dame 29.
Day 2 scores were: Cathedral 59 More 54 (semifinal); Holy Trinity 57 St. Benedict 54 (semifinal); St. Benedict 49 More 43 (bronze); Pine Ridge 65 Kennedy 53 (friendly); Notre Dame 56 Bishop Ryan 50 (friendly).
Source: Marnie Jadon