Lions take the East Regional Senior Championship title against the Panthers

The R.H. King Academy Lions won two out of the three sets against the Birchmount Park Panthers at the TDSB East Region Senior Championship volleyball game hosted by R.H. King on Nov. 9, but both teams were never too far ahead of the other.

The first set ended 24-22 with the Panthers in the lead, but in the second set, the Lions returned with a comeback of 25-18. The Lions won the game taking the third set 25-19.

A sea of students in their navy blue school uniforms took over the gym’s bleachers as they chanted “King! King! King! King!” and “Lions! Lions! Lions! Lions!” all while stomping their feet and clapping their hands in unison.

You could feel the vibrations from the crowd’s chants and the nerves from the opposing team.

Coach Dave Chambers of the Lions said regardless of the win, “Both teams are qualified to go on to the next round, which is good for both of our schools to try to qualify for OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations), so both teams will earn that opportunity.”

“We’re both playing next week at the City Championship … Birchmount is a Triple A division, R.H. King is a Quadruple A division, so we’re both moving on regardless,” added Bill MacKay, Panthers’ coach.

Bragging rights between both east region teams were in play.

“They both were defending champions the previous four, five and they want to continue to add their names on the plaque,” Chambers said.

“Regardless of bragging rights, we’re neighbouring schools. The boys have a friendly rivalry [relationship] and the boys all know each other,” MacKay added.

MacKay said his team played their best and gives kudos to two of his strongest starting power players: Reid May and Devon Retzer.

“King’s Joshua Henderson is unbelievable. That’s our biggest problem. He’s like 6’4, 200-something pounds and he’s in grade 10!” MacKay said.

R.H. King’s starting power, Grant O’Gorman is another problem for his team, he said.

“He’s a physical specimen. So talented and he’s tough to handle as well so we definitely had work cut out for us, that’s for sure,” he said.

The R.H. King Lions share an amazing chemistry of the game and it’s evident on the court.

Coach Dave Chambers said he couldn’t be prouder of his team.

“Aside from our two best players O’Gorman and Henderson, our right side player Francois Marfo played a great game for us; he blocked their guys nicely… He played a fantastic game!” he said.

On Monday, Nov. 14, both east regional schools will be in the running for the city championship semi-finals and have a chance to qualify on Wednesday in the city championship finals.

“From then on, whoever wins the Quad A goes to Quad A OFSAA, Triple A to Triple A OFSAA, Double A to Double A, so there are four different OFSAAs for small schools, a little bit bigger, a little bit bigger and then the biggest,” MacKay explained.

R.H. King, East Region champions will host the city semi-finals on home court against North Region, Westview Centennial on Monday, Nov. 14, followed by another game later in the day against the South Region champions.

Lion’s starting setter, Yamin Bassim, says he wants the Lions to take “victory!”

“We have an opportunity to make it to OFSAA, but right now we’re in the final four and that’s all we can ask for … We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year,” Chambers said.