NATIONAL SENIOR CIRCUIT SEMIFINALS & NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME RECAP
ONL-X vs. United Scholastic Academy (Varsity) – National Senior Circuit Semi-Finals
The senior circuit semi-finals opened with a marquee game as ONL-X put on a show to take down United Scholastic Academy (USA) 74-64 and punch their ticket to the finals.
ONL-X trailed 24-19 after one, but an emphatic defensive showing in the second quarter saw them hold USA to just two points to turn the tides of the game in their favour.
“It was all about the energy,” said Yank Aphely, who had 13 points in the game. “We needed all the support, especially the guys on the bench, it really helped.”
USA found their offensive rhythm again in the third, with Tristan Darko scoring 18 points, and Mark Dike adding two threes on his way to 12 points, but the second quarter deficit proved to be too much for the Scarborough side.
“We’re really hyped. They’re a good team,” said Aphely. “It really gave us a boost.”
Aphely said they are confident heading into the finals after the showing, and felt they had all the tools to take the victory off whoever they face.
“I think we can win,” he said. “We’re a deep team, we have a defence, deep starting line-up and strong on rebounds, I think we can win this.”
St. Laurent Express vs. Brampton City Prep – National Senior Circuit Semi-Finals
The other side of the National Senior Circuit bracket got started with St. Laurent putting everyone on notice as they beat Brampton City Prep 97-80.
Player of the game Johny Tchoukuegno put a stamp on the game early scoring 15 points in the opening quarter, propelling his squad to a 28-22 lead to open the second quarter.
St. Laurent’s sharpshooter Aven Allana, also had an impressive showing, knocking down eight threes en route to 26 points on the night.
“They were (playing zone defence), so we had to share the ball fast, score, and play in transition,” said Tchoukuegno.
The Express showed off the entire repertoire offensively, including a variety of creative lay-up finishes around the rim in transition to pull away from Brampton City Prep in the third quarter. Tchoukuiegno credited the teams finishing drills every morning “Five in the morning, every morning, we’re working on it,” said Tchoukuiegno with a smile.
Brampton City Prep’s Matthew Warner led them in scoring with 20 points.
“We’ve got to keep the energy for the finals,” said Tchoukuiegno. “Get rebounds, box out, and come out strong.”
ONL-X vs St. Laurent Express – National Senior Circuit National Championship game
ONL-X took home the top prize at the National Senior Circuit finals with an 82-71 win over St. Laurent.
The game quickly became a physical battle in the paint as ONL-X looked to impose their will down low in the first quarter. ONL-X’s physicality also extended out to St. Laurent’s lead guard, Johny Tchoukuegno, who struggled to find a rhythm offensively in the game.
“We really played well as a team,” said Jason Sache, who was named the game’s most outstanding player. “Hard work pays off. Hard (defence), they’re a tough team.”
Sache led the way down low, grabbing rebound after rebound, and scoring 24 points, almost exclusively in the paint.
“I’m a big guy,” said Sache. “If I see a match up, I like, I go and get it. It was that simple.”
Just when it looked like ONL-X was about to put on another lockdown defensive showing in the second half, St. Laurent began to spring to life at the end of the third quarter. Aven Allana once again caught fire from three, hitting three in the fourth quarter, and scoring 20 points (including six threes) on the night. Still, ONL-X dug deep and found the key stops needed in crunch time to secure the victory.
“The good thing about our team is we have a deep bench,” said Sache. “A lot of guys who show up and work…makes life easier for us.”
Congratulations to National Senior Circuit National Champions ONL-X.
NATIONAL JUNIOR CIRCUIT SEMIFINALS & NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME RECAP
St. Jude’s vs Academy Excel Hoops Prep – National Junior Circuit Semi-Finals
Defending NJC National Champions Excel Hoops kicked off the National Junior Circuit’s semi-finals with an impressive showing on both sides of the ball in a 94-83 victory over St. Jude’s.
Both teams traded leads early, but a defensive lockdown from Excel Hoops in the second would prove to be a turning point – a theme throughout both sides of the tournament.
“We had to lock up on the defensive end. That’s really it.” Said Nahshon Salmon. “We took pride in our defense.”
Salmon was named player of the game and had 17 points. Excel also showed out on the offensive end, with Daunte Jones scoring 25 points and Kenan Gilao adding 21.
While St. Jude’s fell behind, Usaym Khan came to life in the second half and torched Excel Hoops for 30 points, 28 of which came in the third and fourth quarters but fell just short of his efforts to bring St. Jude’s back into the game.
With Excel off to the finals to attempt a repeat national title, the keys to winning the trophy for Salmon are clear. “Rebound and lock up on defence until the end,” said Salmon.
Brampton City Prep vs P3P – National Junior Circuit Semi-Finals
Brampton City Prep pulled away from P3P late to secure their spot in the National Junior Circuit semi-finals with a dramatic 95-77 win in the second semi-final of the day.
P3P, led by Caleb Coote and his 18 points, mounted an early lead on Brampton City Prep. Coote was flanked by early stand-out performances from EJ Agua and Terrence Makonga who each finished the game with eight points. But while P3P was rolling offensively, they struggled to stop the player of the game, Janoy Walkes, who single-handedly kept BCP alive in the first quarter.
Walkes was a relentless force offensively, driving to the rim, taking, and making threes, finding his teammates for open shots, and knocking down free throws – all on the way to a scintillating 34 point performance.
“It’s just my mentality, we were down at the beginning, but we just kept our heads up and kept pushing,” said Walkes.
The game stayed tight until the fourth quarter when P3P seemed to run out of gas as Walkes’ teammates began to hit shot after shot to pull away with the game. Te’Ziah Malcolm had 16 points and David Bottomley had 13 points.
With Brampton City Prep off to the finals, Walkes’ message to his team was clear: keep the same energy they’ve had for the entire playoffs and things will work out.
Brampton City Prep vs. Excel Hoops – National Junior Circuit National Championship game
Brampton City Prep left no doubt who were the champions in the final game of the night, taking a massive 109-71 win over Excel Hoops to capture their first NJC National Championship.
It was another signature performance from Janoy Walkes, who was awarded the most outstanding player after the game. He scored a team-high 22 points, but it was the entire offence that continued to knock down shots and run in transition – just as they did when they pulled away from P3P in the fourth quarter of the semi-finals.
“Realistically, it was my team that helped me throughout this day,” said Walkes. “We had a rough playoff against P3P, but we all built this together in the fourth quarter…it was teamwork that got us that win right there.”
Excel Hoops had standout performances of their own, Kenan Gilao led all scorers with 26 points, and Drelyn Downey took over in the fourth with 24 points.
Walkes continued to heap praise on his teammates post-game for their ability to support each other throughout the playoff run but said this NJC National Championship meant a lot to him as someone who started as a soccer player and didn’t play basketball a lot.
“(My teammates) are supportive, if you miss a lay-up, they’re telling you to keep your head up,” said Walkes. “Everyone is willing to trust each other, and we just have a perfect season like that.”
Congratulations to National Junior Circuit National Champions Brampton City Prep (BCP) North.