High schools gear up for basketball quarter-finals

The East Region Senior Boys Tier One basketball championships are underway, with the Stephen Leacock Lions hosting the Sir Robert L. Borden Falcons in their quarter-final match today.

These teams faced off only once during the season, when Leacock won narrowly 56–54. Leacock finished the 10-game season in third place with seven wins and three losses, while Borden ended their year with a .500 record, scoring as many points as they allowed.

One player to keep an eye on is Falcons point guard Anthony Wade.  The fifth year student averages 30 points a game and has garnered attention from many Canadian colleges.

“He’s by far their best player,” Leacock coach Fraser McCulloch said.  “So we’ve really got to focus our attention on him.”

Wade is aware the Lions plan to shut him down, but the star player is up for the challenge.

“They’re mostly going to double-team me,” Wade said.  “There’s going to be one guy who’s always going to be on me, so we’re going to have to set a lot of screens.”

When Leacock beat Borden during the regular season, the victory came at home.

“We’re hoping that having the home-court advantage and having that experience of winning a lot of those close games will be to our advantage, come crunch time in the quarter-final,” McCulloch said.  For Coach McCulloch, winning is not only about advancing to the finals; it is about earning respect from the other schools in the region.

“Not many people know about Leacock or really think there’s much here in terms of a basketball program, but somehow, some way, we find a way to win and to be successful,” he said.  “I’m proud of that and I’m proud of my guys for being able to have that mental toughness to be in the mix.”

After a disappointing season last year, Borden coach Donavan Smith believes his team has what it takes to go far.

“We’re looking forward to trying to get to the finals,” he said.  “We were there two years ago, and I believe we could be there again with the team that we have.”

Smith also mentioned that the team’s 5–5 record does not accurately reflect the skill level of his players.

“We should have been better than .500.  We lost to teams that we shouldn’t have lost to.  We lost to Pearson.  Birchmount beat Pearson and we beat Birchmount by 25, 30 points.”

Although the Lions will have the home-court advantage, where McCulloch promises much “yelling and screaming,” Smith said confidence is the key to overcoming the crowd.

“It doesn’t matter who’s there, it doesn’t matter who’s watching, we’ve got to focus.  We’ve got to take the crowd out, number one, and then we just play basketball.  Our goal is to defeat Leacock in their gym.  All I have to say is good luck to Leacock, good luck to Borden and let the best team win.”