OFSAA Championships: Oakwood’s focus on academics helps team make the grade on court

Following heartbreaking losses in the regional and city championships, to the same team, the Oakwood Collegiate Institute Barons rebounded with a huge 79-58 win over the St. Matthew Tigers in the opening round of the 2010 OFSAA basketball championships.

Putting grades first translated into a brilliant 34-4 record in the regular season. The Barons secured the sixth seed in the provincial championship with their hard work off the court.

Head coach Anthony Miller values the education of his players and believes he can use schoolwork as a means of motivation.

“We definitely want our kids to go off to university, or go off to college,“ he said. “We have a big lineup, with 16 guys, and we’ve gone into games with seven or eight. We really want to stress the importance of academics.“

Total domination in the first two quarters had Oakwood up 23 points at halftime. Missed shots and turnovers had the Tigers in a hole from the opening quarter. Defensive adjustments were made by the Barons throughout the match, which had Miller feeling confident about the next few games.

“We started a little bit slow, but we kind of picked up our defence,“ he said. “ I think if we are going to win this tournament, or anyone that`s going to win this tournament, is going have to play defence at a very high level.“

Though academic excellence is key for the Barons participating in the three-day competition, the coach still feels there is room for development in his team`s ability on the court.

“We`ve still got a lot of things to work on. Our habits need to get a little bit better,“ Miller said. “We worked on some specific things today that we didn’t really do in our season. We just want to improve on those things.“

Oakwood will go on to face the first seeded Pickering Trojans in the next round  Tuesday. The tournament being held at Durham College in Oshawa will run until Wednesday.