Last year’s champs open OFSAA meet with a win

Last season’s OFSAA boy’s champions Eastern Commerce Saints opened the 2010 AAAA basketball tournament with a convincing victory over Pope John Paul II Panthers 73-58 at Durham College.

Pope John Paul (25-10) put up a great first half with a 33-30 lead at half-time. The Saints (23-7) stormed back in the second half after the Panther’s depth was proven shallow as they played six players throughout the game.

Even with the bench advantage, Eastern Commerce’s coach Kevin Jeffers’ game plan was highlighted by the fact they had better depth.

“Two of the best players in the province aren’t playing for them. They got kicked off the team early. We knew we could run them and that’s just what we wanted to do, run them,” Jeffers said.

The Saints leading scorer, guard Tyrone Ariri, believes his team’s strong defensive play helped with the team. Even though he leads the team on the court, he isn’t ready to lead the team off the court.

“I don’t think I’m the leader on this team yet. There are a couple seniors (who handle it). I have another year to go,” Ariri said.

Denzel Brooks, another guard for Commerce, knows that the team’s tempo led them to victory.

“(Our biggest strength is) pushing the ball. When we get the ball off a rebound and (when) we fast break they can’t stop us; no team can,” Brooks said.

Coach Jeffers does not try to counter the opposing team’s game plan, staying true to the team concept.

“Well we have a standard that we set for Eastern Commerce and we identify who we are in the beginning,” he said. “We got to play (a fast) pace. We got to play to (our team’s) skill. We were going play to the team that we developed.”

Eastern Commerce continues Tuesday against St. Anne S.S. Saints at the tournament.