Win puts Cathedral in contention for second-straight HWCAA title

By Larry Moko

It was a standout performance in more ways than one for Josh Coward of the Cathedral Gaels senior boys’ high school basketball team.

The 6-foot-1 guard gathered in some key rebounds and scored a team-high 19 points to help the Gaels defeat the visiting St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves, 60-53, in a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league semifinal on Tuesday.

Coward, who also grabs your attention by wearing two different-coloured shoes on the court, sank five three-pointers and added two insurance free-throw baskets with 13 seconds left.

Coward’s left shoe is neon orange, while his right shoe is plain white.

“A lot,” Coward said with a laugh when asked if many people ask him about the mismatch. “They say it looks cool … keep it up.

“My one shoe ripped, so I had to borrow one from my friend who had the same shoe (style).”

In addition to Coward’s offensive production, Cathedral also got 14 points by Nathan Bilamu and 11 by Zach Powell.

Guard Daniel Graham replied with a game-high 24 points for Brebeuf. Centre Ares Culley-Bremner added 12 and Cale Calura chipped in with nine.

Cathedral will vie for its second-straight HWCAA title Thursday night at McMaster University when it faces the Cardinal Newman Cardinals. Newman punched its ticket with a 70-67 semifinal decision over the first-place St. Thomas More Knights.

“They made shots and we didn’t,” Brebeuf coach Jae Dunphy said. “I thought we did a pretty good job holding that team to 60 points. They splashed the points when they were supposed to make them. Number 24 (Coward) made some great shots and Nathan made some big-time shots, too.

“(Cathedral) continues to churn out great shooters. Kudos to their coaching staff.”

Cathedral held quarter leads of 14-11, 25-21 and 45-39.

“The Hamilton league is so tough, there’s not much difference between the top four or five teams,” Fortino said. “We knew this would be a hard-fought battle. Daniel Graham was probably the best player on the floor tonight (five 3-pointers). He played outstanding. And Ares is tough to guard inside. They’re a great team with all-around balance.”

Coward hasn’t been a starter in the majority of Cathedral’s games this season. That’s an indication of the Gaels overall strength and depth.

“I sprained my ankle at the beginning of the season,” Coward said. “I’ve been putting in the work after my injury so that I could come back stronger. Now my shots are falling.”

According to the Cathedral coach, Coward is an intelligent, reliable player who does a little bit of everything. Said Fortino, “He can play amazingly-well offensively but he can also defend and get rebounds.”

Fourth-place Newman will enter the championship game with a combined regular-season and playoff record of 8-5. The second-place Gaels are 11-2, including two victories over Newman (71-64 and 78-50).

The midget and junior squads from Cathedral also have advanced to the tripleheader finals on Thursday at McMaster’s Burridge Gym. In junior semifinal action, Cathedral topped the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 71-60, and the Brebeuf Braves downed the St. Mary Crusaders, 50-47. At the midget level, Cathedral got past Brebeuf, 73-54, and Cardinal Newman ousted the St. Thomas More Knights, 43-29.

The midget, junior and senior starting times are 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively.

Source: Marnie Jadon

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