Hamilton Wildcats claw way to fifth straight Ontario basketball title

Like Rodney Dangerfield, the Hamilton Wildcats major midget boys basketball team just wanted a little respect. Ranked No. 3 heading into in the Ontario Basketball Association’s provincial championship tournament, the Wildcats thought their province-best record warranted a No. 1 position.

That was the perch the cagers found themselves in the four pervious years when they claimed the Division 1 AAAA provincial banner.

And the Wildcats proved they were deserving of the top seeding when they won the recent major midget championship, making it five in a row to cap an impressive year. This year the team repeated its feat of last year, winning the American Youth Basketball Division 1 Nationals in Indiana, something no other Canadian team has done.

With nine-year coach Romeo Fappiano, the Wildcats have won eight Division 1 medals – six golds, one silver and one bronze. Fappiano has also coached the Cathedral Gaels High School juniors to a city title and won the prestigious Father Kennedy tournament, both in 1999.

In the recent showdown in Ottawa, two cats met in the championship game. Hamilton’s team of 16-year-old Wildcats prevailed 75-51 over the Durham West Jaguars. Tyrone Watson lead the team with 19 points while David Boyce and Ryan Christie each added 18.

Watson and Boyce, who each scored 78 points throughout the tournament, were named Basketball Ontario most valuable players.

Wildcats made it to the gold medal game with a close 59-53 semi-final win over city rivals Blessed Sacrament. Boyce (15) Watson and Dwayne Harvey (13 each) and Alex Reis Hewitt (12) paced the winners.

Kitchener-Waterloo Vipers fell 76-44 in a quarter-final tilt. Harvey (15), Boyce (12), and Jelani Deliovsky (9) led Hamilton.

Hamilton opened up its march to the final with a 58-50 win over Scarborough Blues. Boyce (16), Watson (15) and Harvey (14) provided the offensive muscle.

Ottawa Celtics were next to fall, 55-29 with Boyce (12), Steve Carter (10) and Harvey (9) leading the scorers. The Wildcats completed round-robin play with a 43-37 victory over Ajax Lions. Watson (16) and Harvey and Boyce (8 each) accounted for the bulk of the scoring.

Members of the championship team included: Dennis Boateng, David Boyce-Fappiano, Steve Carter, Spencer Cherwaty, Ryan Christie, Jelani Deliovsky, Adam Dyment, Dwayne Harvey, Bhavdeep Malhie, Steve Mucowintore, Tyrone Watson, Alex Reis Hewitt, Christian Zelewski. Coaches: Romeo Fappiano, Sylvia Boyce, Mario Susi, Dave Hewitt