Crusaders outlast Panthers for repeat Walton win

For the second consecutive year, Father Henry Carr Crusaders of Etobicoke have captured the overall championship at the Mark Walton Invitational senior boys’ high school basketball tournament held by Hamilton’s Cathedral High School.

The Crusaders sink a basket in a tight championship match with d'Youville on Saturday. (Photo: Gerry Graham)

The Crusaders sink a basket in a tight championship match with d’Youville on Saturday. (Photo: Gerry Graham)

The Crusaders defeated Brampton’s St. Marguerite d’Youville Panthers 50-49 on Saturday (Dec. 7) at the Cathedral gym to take top honours among the eight entries.

Third-place went to last year’s provincial high school Triple A gold-medal winners, Windsor’s Catholic Central Comets, who got past the host Cathedral Gaels, 71-67. The consolation title went to Toronto’s Eastern Commerce Saints. They edged Cardinal Newman Cardinals, 63-59. Oakville’s Holy Trinity Titans downed St. Thomas More Knights, 56-49, to take seventh spot.

“It’s very tough to win this tournament,” said Carr coach Paul Melnik. “These are probably eight of the top teams in the province. To come back this year, with half my team gone, and win again …. We’re really happy. We just want to work hard. The young guys are stepping up.”

Overall this season, the Crusaders are 16-1.

Carr led 7-6, 23-16 and 34-30 at the end of the quarters. Addy Ogunye’s three-point basket at the buzzer for the Panthers completed the scoring.

Guard Marcus Bonnick of the Crusaders was selected the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He netted 21 points in the finale and teammate Anthony McNish added eight. For the Panthers, Ogunye and DamiAnn Prehay were the leading scorers with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

The Father Henry Carr Crusaders are presented with their trophy.  (Photo: Gerry Graham)

The Father Henry Carr Crusaders are presented with their trophy. (Photo: Gerry Graham)

Melnik praised the efforts of Bonnick: “He worked so hard in the off season to improve his conditioning and skill level. And with the improvement in both, his confidence has gone through the roof. He’s earned a leadership role. So when the game is on the line, we’re going to put the ball in his hands.”

Mark Walton, whom the tournament is named after, coached Cathedral squads to three Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations boys’ championships before stepping down as head coach in 1998. As a player, he also won a provincial title with the Gaels. Those accomplishments were brought up by Melnik during the awards ceremony.

“Mark Walton was an elite player and coach,” Melnik said. “I coached against him way back when. He’s not my mentor, but he’s like my mentor.”

Ogunye was selected a first team all-star along with Prehay. Other all-stars were Ty Stewart-Nelson and Anthony McNish of the Crusaders along with Isaiah Familia of Catholic Central. The second-team all-star choices were: Daniel Dzierzawski of Cathedral, Ignas Brazdeikis of Holy Trinity, Narcisse Ambanza of Eastern Commerce, Nyong James of the Catholic Central, and David McCulloch of Cardinal Newman.


Seventh-place game: Holy Trinity 56 (Shamiel Stevenson 22, Ignas Brazdeikis 17) St. Thomas More 49 (Joel Clarke 11, Osayi Ignivan 11)

Consolation championship: Eastern Commerce 63 (Trayvon Ross 14, Narcisse Ambanza 16) Cardinal Newman 59 (Josh Nardini 18, David McCulloch 11, Tyler Brown 10)

Third-place game: Catholic Central 71 (Isaiah Familia 21, Eriq Jenkins 15, Nyong James 14) Cathedral 67 (Daniel Dzierzawski 30, Kareem Kollins 13, Shemar Mensah 11).

Overall championship: Father Henry Carr 50, St. Marguerite d’Youville 49.