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Historic High School Basketball Season in Ottawa’s ‘OFSAA’ division

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St. Patrick's Irish win 10th City Championship since 1999!

The 2015-2016 Ottawa high school basketball season  was one for the ages! Many teams stood out as they made some historic runs; some fell short, some won it all but nonetheless many teams had a season to remember. Despite The Franco-Ouest Vikings losing in the city finals they still made a historic run by going to the city finals in just their second year of their basketball program  taking part in the ‘OFSAA’ division. Ashbury had another great year! With star power Noah Kirkwood, Lloyd Pandi & Owen Boisvert leading their team to a perfect regular season. They eventually won the city ‘AA’ finals in dominating fashion to beat Franco-Ouest 55-38 in the city ‘AA’ finals. Pandi finished with a game-high 17 points and19 rebounds. Kirkwood finished with 12 points & 14 rebounds as for Boisvert he finished with 15 points & 8 rebounds as their big 3 finished their season with a monsterours performance!  There play was one for the ages as they dominated teams in a very classy way! With the young star power that Ashbury contains their future is looking extraordinary. All that can be said right now is fasten your seat belts ladies & gentleman Ashbury college will not only continue to dominate for a long time but the players will get much more coverage as some are already playing for Team Ontario, Team Canada and are getting looks from D1 teams. It’s fair to say that exposing these young stars right now will be too early as none of the big 3 will be graduating.

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Franco Ouest Vikings Basketball Team

On the other hand the Franco-Ouest Vikings who made quite a remarkable run this season will have half of their team graduating this year. The co-coaches Wilfrid Kalala, Ahmed Youssef and their staff has done a great job with the Vikings basketball program the past few years. After getting teased for over a decade for playing in ‘Tier 2’ despite having outstanding players. The Vikings finally got the respect they been searching for, as they showed that they can not only make it to the OFSAA ‘AA’ division but also be contenders in it. After the lost of their starting shooting guard & small forward Junior Abibe & Vince Dejala the Vikings future did not look too promising. Losing the two players resulted in Franco-Ouest barley making it into the playoff last year & getting eliminated in the very first round of last years playoffs against the St Joseph’s Jaguars. As they entered their 2nd year in OFSAA ‘AA’ division they made sure they approached the season completely differently than the prior year. After a summer of convincing Vince Dejala made a homecoming return to his Vikings which turned out well. Karl Thys a transfer from Montreal who was new to the city, was added to their roster playing in his first basketball league in Ottawa. He brought his toughness from the Montreal playground as he led the team defensively throughout the year. Starting point guard Jordan Mukenga spent his summer facing Ottawa All-Stars Ryan Kabuya & Amir El Badry in a summer league. This fierce competition all summer helped Mukenga up his game to a new level! Young guard Danny Lukusa was also a new face for the Senior basketball team. His long frame & intensive play helped him transition from juniors to seniors easily. And the sharp shooter  Jordy Miantezila kept his teammates in check from the first practice to the last. Being the oldest player on the team his leadership and maturity was a key role into the change of basketball culture for the Franco-Ouest Vikings. From the first games of the season it was clear that Franco-Ouest was ready to shock the city as their big 4 offensive players Jordy, Jordan, Vince & Danny and the rest of the cast were determined to make this a successful season starting off 6-0 to eventually finish 8-2. The Vikings made it to the OFSAA ‘AA’ finals by beating most teams people expected them to lose to. Despite losing to Ashbury in the city finals these young men’s walked off with their head high as they knew they made it further than expected and everyone in the team showed signs of growth! Especially their big 4! Danny Lukusa averaged 11.9 points a game. Jordan Mukenga & Vince Dejala both averaged 11.7 points a game. Jordy Miantezila averaged 11.3 points a game. Which all played a major factor in helping Franco-Ouest historic run to the Ofsaa ‘AA’ finals. One thing is for sure, these young men future will be bright as they had numerous coaches from colleges & universities interested in them.

The last game was easily the most entertaining game of the finals! Longfields Davidson Ravens vs St Patrick’s Irish. Longfields surprised many as they beat a great team in Glebe Gryphon’s a team they lost to in the season to make it to the finals. Despite losing the finals these young men had a fantastic season. As for St Patrick’s Irish history was on the line for them and their fans made sure they gave everything they had to help them accomplish it. The Irish fans came out in a bunch! Screaming from the top of their lungs from the beginning of the game to the end! With 11 guys graduating this year this was by far the largest graduating group of coach Matthew Koeslag 10 year coaching career with the Irish boys, which made everyone play with a chip on their shoulders knowing that this will be practically all of their last year playing High school basketball. However the team they had in the beginning of the season was different from what they finished with as they lost many key players for personnel reasons. The first couple months of practice was extremely hard for the Irish boys, their co-coach Tina St.Amour was out on a maternity leave, the head coach  Matthew Koeslag was also called away from the team as his wife was awaiting a heart transplant and did not return to the team till November. During both coaches absence other coaches stepped up such as their junior coach Alex Rassi, former players & graduates Brian Nuwagaba, Daniel Lutfy, Jesse Duodo & their community coach and the voice of basketball in Ottawa Vikta Paulo.

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Coach Matthew Koeslag maintained communication with all of them during his absence but of course was unsure where they’d be when he returned. In his return the Irish boys participated in a tournament at the ‘Cegep de L’Outaouais’ where they only dressed 9 players for various reasons. Despite all the adversity they had gone through the Irish interior monster Lock Lam hit a buzzer beater to win them the tournament where they played teams such as Ottawa U19. Following that tournament they hosted their own in their home floor and won that as well. Despite things going well St Pats took another fall as they were forced to cut two of their top players Muhammed Kabeya a Canadian all-star who played for U17 Ontario team at the summer games of 2014. Ryan Kabuya their leading scorer was also cut in December to get him back on track academically. During that period they lost 4 games, one to Ashbury who everyone claims is their top competition for the best in the city. They lost to Ashbury in the semi-final at the Holy Cross Crusaders tournament in Kingston. Then lost 3 close ones to Toronto teams at the Vaughn classic. During that time they added Donte Strachan & Marc Evrard who both returned to the program. Also a solid grade 11 from Merivale Eugene Kanku who became eligible to play for the Irish men’s in December. Needless to say many changes had occurred for the Irish during their first couple of months. Coming back from the Christmas break they looked to start fresh! Starting off with the Jaguar Classic, they looked to built some much needed momentum. Despite not winning the tournament they built a momentum they had been looking for all year. They lost by 6 to the 4th best team in the country Jeanne Mance. After that lost the Irish men’s never looked back as they never lost a game after that. They did however lose their transfer Eugene Kanku for the rest of the year with a separated shoulder but that did not stop them from continuing their dominance. They took their revenge on Ashbury and beat them at the National Capital Classic hosted by Hillcrest & Ridgemont. From Feb 2-11 Irish men’s won 10 games in 11 days! Making them more than ready for the playoffs. The first round was a bye but the second round was a special moment for St.Patricks Irish as Mother Theresa’s coach Mike Rowley who coached St. Pats from the late 90’s to 2008 who also led a championship team with coach Matthew Koeslag & Tina St Amour in 2008. The St Patrick’s Irish beat their former coach’s team 70-54 and went on to win the city’s ‘AAA’ finals 83-43 against Longfields Davidson Ravens. The team was led by Lock Lam who finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds & 9 blocks.  And Ryan Kabuya who finished with a game high 18 points on 9-10 field goal. This marks the school’s 10th Senior Boys Championship since 1999, tying Sir Robert Borden for the most city championships since 1980. This historic team was led by the outstanding play of Ryan Kabuya who averaged 14.6 points a game. Lock Lam who averaged 12.7 points a game leading them also in every defensive category (Rebounds, Blocks & Steals) & Elijah Davidson 10.5 points a game.

Girls

15-Year Old Canadian Laeticia Amihere Throws Down Hard One-hander

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Laeticia Amihere One Hand Dunk

The game is changing across Canada…

In a basketball first, 15-year old Laeticia Amihere became the first Canadian high school basketball to dunk in a basketball game.
In over 15 years of covering Canadian basketball I can’t recall a Canadian female attempt a dunk, rather completing one with oomph in game. The dunk has the Internets buzzing with Amihere’s name already being tossed around as potential No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA.

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Boys

Canada’s Finest: Lindell Wigginton

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Canada’s Finest: Lindell Wigginton

2017 Canadian Guard Lindell Wiggington from Nova Scotia is Canada’s next rising star.

Balling out of the famous Oak Hill Academy academy program that is synonymous with NBA development, Wigginton has been on tear solidify his name and game.

Wiggington a 6’1, 180lbs point guard has committed to the Iowa State Cyclones commit and is the first Canadian Basketball player to attend Oakhill academy.

 

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Boys

Cliche put to rest – Canada’s Orangeville Prep develop two lottery NBA players

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Basketball… So many thoughts come to one’s mind after hearing that noun. The game has made us judge, argue, hate and even fight. Yet we still love this game and wouldn’t change it for the world. Yes there are cons, but the pros outweighs the cons by far. The game of basketball has turned nightmares to fairytales for many! It has helped people put racial tension aside, it’s brought life and hope to millions of families and overall it has impacted the world in a fascinating fashion. Since its existence in 1891 it seems as though the game has never seized to keep growing. From a sport that was just known in North America for most of the 20th century, Basketball is now ranked as the third most popular sport in the world trailing only cricket and soccer.

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1992 USA Gold Medal Olympic Team – The “Dream Team”

The number of youth playing basketball worldwide has seen some record breaking numbers the past few decades; it’s fair to say that most of these kids have one common dream – to play in the most popular basketball league in the world the ‘National Basketball Association’. Many may ask when did making it to the NBA become such a world-wide dream? It happened in the summer of 1992, the first year that the Olympic committee allowed active NBA players to part-take in the America basketball team.

This team would go on to be known as the ‘Dream Team’ and to many sports writers the greatest team in all of sports. The Dream Team featured NBA legends such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and many other NBA greats. They won by an average of 44 points. But their greatest accomplishment was not destroying teams and winning the gold. It was showcasing the essence of pure basketball talent and the NBA. Making it the first time for practically all international countries to see what the NBA was and is all about. Many great international players such as Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and many others credit the Dream Team for allowing the NBA to become more international.

Today the NBA has over 80 international players from over 40 countries. This has made in sort for more and more high schools and prep schools around the world to construct great basketball programs for their schools. Leaving plenty high schoolers with the dream of making it to make the NBA. Despite high school student’s 0.3% chances of fulfilling their childhood basketball dreams High schools and prep schools have still done a phenomenal job in building amazing basketball programs world-wide. When people think of great high school and prep school basketball programs there are few teams that come to mind right away. Such as Oak Hill Academy who’s produced 27 NBA players, DeWitt Clinton who produced 19 NBA players, Dematha Catholic who’s produced 14, Laurinburg Institute 12. The list goes on but these four notable high schools and prep schools have developed the most NBA players. That is not to say that there aren’t many other great basketball programs. However, there has been a cliché amongst the youth that only schools in America can develop NBA players.

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That cliché was recently put to rest after two players who came out of Canada’s Orangeville Prep got selected in the 2016 NBA Draft! Kitchener, Ontario’s own Jamal Murray who was picked at #7 by the Denver Nuggets and Sudanese/Australian and adopted Canadian Thon Makur who was picked at #10 by the Milwaukee Bucks. Orangeville District Secondary School’s mission is “to provide exceptional educational opportunities as well as state of the art basketball facility and development for high school student athletes looking to make their passion for basketball a reality at the next level.” They’ve done a tremendous job of that and should be proud.

BasketballBuzz took the time to interview both Murray and Makur head coach at Orangeville Prep Larry Blunt who recently coached the Oshawa Power in the NBL Canada and who coached at the NCAA level for eight years.

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Orangeville Prep Head Coach Larry Blunt

BB: Coach can you tell us your thoughts on seeing two of your old boys Murray & Makur get drafted to the NBA?

LB: I think it’s exciting when you get an opportunity to see things work out for the boys. This gives us the opportunity to hopefully replicate it

BB : You seen the two come in as boys and transformed into men, how has that process been like?

LB: That process has been great. I think we can see it especially with Thon in the way he transformed his body. And with both of them you can see great transition they made emotionally and every other part of their game.

BB: How have you managed to keep your team so relevant with all the powerhouse teams you guys play in the states?

LB: Our guys play with a chip on their shoulders. Knowing that they need to go get the respect from their peers. We’ve been getting great feedbacks especially the last two years with Makur & Murray success. We touched success at not only the NBA but also the division 1 level which has been great.

BB : What has been the toughest challenge for your boys?

LB: Everything has been tough. Nothing is given here, I think the getting to practice at 3 or 4 then having to go to class has prepared them well. No favour is giving, kids have to fight, they do not have it easy and had to work for everything they had.

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Thon Maker & Jamal Murray – Orangeville Prep

BB: What can we expect from Murray and Makur in the NBA?

LB: I think both of their game will translate well into the NBA. Especially with the new NBA, Thon can take advantage of the space with his shots. Especially with the new rule to get your hands off guys. Jamal Murray is a traditional point guard. I don’t think the world seen Jamal Murray in the global games and Nike tournaments where he ran a team. I think that is a skill set that the world will see. They also both possess a great work ethic.

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