Raymond Tone is sitting in his chair in the Richview Collegiate Physical Education Office, his hands behind his head, smiling ear to ear.
It is not an hour after his senior boys basketball team had secured their spot in the Toronto District Secondary Schools Athletic Association (TDSSAA) city championship final Thursday afternoon at Ryerson University.
His Saints had pulled overcome a double-digit deficit to defeat the Northview Phoenix 62-54.
“We bent but didn’t break,” said Tone. “We’ve been in the final four of the TDSSAA the last three years. We relied on that experience, playing the right way with effort and energy.”
The adversity the Saints faced in the semi-finals was nothing new for this team. One of their best players, Seth Johnson, missed the game due to a broken hand.
Having lost in the West regional final to the Silverthorn Spartans 68-46, Richview was on a mission for revenge.
Saints’ 5-1 regular-season record qualified them into the TDSSAA Tier 1 (3A) semifinals. The Richview coach is aware of the athletics culture at his school. Walk into the Saints gymnasium and championship banners are scattered across the walls.
“It’s a culture of winning and striving to win,” said Tone. “The kids respond to that. In the community, young people know what Richview Athletics is about and they respond to that.”
Throughout the game, Tone is in constant communication with his players. Whether it is setting plays or motivating certain guys to work harder, the team responds to Tone’s coaching style.
No better example than in the fourth quarter when the Saints were down five points to the Phoenix.
Tone possessed a calm temperament. He knew his players were getting into position but not executing baskets.
As the fourth quarter progressed, the Saints gained confidence on both ends of the floor. From forcing turnovers to scoring baskets in transition, Richview fed off the energy from the crowd to complete the comeback.
At the center of the action was Saints star player Hakim Fenton. He secured two late baskets in the final minute to seal the game.
But according to Tone, Fenton displayed leadership in the huddle during a timeout in the last minute of the game.
“Fenton fouled out with 30 seconds left,” said Tone. “Before we put our last subs on the floor, Hakim took over the entire 30-second timeout.
“He told everyone what to do and calmed everybody down. Recognizing the moment, I stepped back and let him talk. He was a true leader at that point in the game.”
Taking on the Oakwood Barons in the championship game, a team steeped with basketball success will be no easy task. For the Saints, it is important to not get lost in Oakwood’s mystique.
“Lock down the player, not the jersey,” said Tone.
Striving to win is the backbone of the athletics culture at Richview Collegiate. It has their senior boys basketball team one win away from the OFSAA championships.
“We’ve been there before,” said Fenton on playing for a city championship. “I’m glad we got this win, the last home game at Richview. I hope I make it to OFSAA with the rest of the boys.”