By Bernd Franke, The Tribune - Sunday, January 11, 2015
Bears are in season, but eagles are off-limits.
At least they are on the basketball court, on the final night of the Tribune Tournament.
The Lakeshore Gators were unable to follow up their victory over the Port High Blue Bears in the semifinals by beating the Thorold Golden Eagles for the consolation championship one night later.
“They were making their shots, but we weren't. It's as simple as that,” head coach Mark Russell said Saturday night after his triple A team's 57-47 loss to Thorold, a single A school.
“Untimely turnovers” also hurt the Gators who came into the four-day, 16-team competition hoping to win their first B title at Ontario's oldest high school tournament in five years.
Lakeshore rebounded from a qualifying-round loss to the Denis Morris Redmen by eliminating the Jean Vanier Lynx and the Blue Bears before losing to Thorold. Overall, Russell was pleased with the team's play in the tournament.
“When we play our game, we compete well. We worked hard, and my boys were prepared.”
The Golden Eagles, who also won the consolation championship last year, were aggressive under their own basket, employing a 2-3 defence meant to cool off Lakeshore's hottest shooter in the tournament.
Despite the added attention, Bailey Moreau still wound up scoring 22 points, but that total is far less than the 37 he netted against the Blue Bears in all-Port Colborne battle in the semifinal round.
“When we had mental lapses, he was open and made his shots,” Thorold head coach John Kwiatkowski said.
For the most part, the strategy to swamp the Gators' scoring leader worked.
“Get the ball out of his hands and, if we don't, make him work for everything. If you let him shoot, he's going to score.”
Thanks to the 2-3 scheme, concentrating on Moreau didn't leaving scoring lanes wide open for other players in the Lakeshore lineup.
“Our guards did a phenomenal job.”
Thorold's Rowan Bryan, whose 25 points led all scorers in the championship doubleheader at Niagara College in Welland, also was with the Golden Eagles when they defeated Grimsby 27-25 to take the B final. He said the two victories are alike in many ways.
“We played larger schools and we had to work hard both games.”
Rowan, the only player from the consolation side of the bracket named to the first all-star team, said there's no secret to being a standout on the court.
“It comes to down to hard work, running hard and listening to your coach,” he said.
Lakeshore's second-leading scorer, with 11 points, was Mack Jones, who as Niagara high school football's offensive player of the year in each of the past two seasons is more used to scoring six points at a time.
Though accustomed to rushing on the gridiron, often with tacklers draped over his head and around his ankles, the Gators isn't used to running up and down the hardwood.
“Believe me, this takes a lot more energy. In football a play lasts eight seconds. Here you're running all the time,” he said with a smile, catching his breath.
Lakeshore's last Tribune Tournament consolation championship was a 49-42 victory over the E.L. Crossley Cyclone in 2010. The Port Colborne school's last, and only, overall title was in 1996 when the Gators beat Notre Dame 52-37.
GOLDEN EAGLES 57, GATORS 47
Scoring for Thorold Golden Eagles: Rowan Bryan 25, Tyler O'Brien 13, Howell Canlas 7, Cam Philip 6, Isaac Whitty 6. Scoring for Lakeshore Gators: Bailey Moreau 22, Mack Jones 11, Austin Russell 7, Matt Walker 5, Sergio Sereeria 2