A couple of recent league decisions regarding player eligibility have turned the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior boys’ high school basketball standings upside down.
By forfeiting four wins this week due to the use of an ineligible player, the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves dropped from first place to last in the HWCAA’s seven-team grouping. And the squad Brebeuf was formerly tied with at the top – Cardinal Newman Cardinals — now has its unblemished record back due to a league ruling that cost the Cathedral Gaels a victory over Newman on Nov. 26.
In action Tuesday (Dec. 17), at the Brebeuf gym, those two offending teams met. Cathedral trounced the Braves, 75-54.
That, in effect, makes it five league losses in less than 48 hours for the Braves. After the high of winning the Chancellor Invitational tournament on the weekend, Brebeuf learned on Monday that it would have to forfeit its previous HWCAA victories against Bishop Ryan, St. Mary, St. Thomas More and Bishop Tonnos. Add the loss to the Gaels, that suddenly leaves the Braves at the bottom with a record of 0-6.
Brebeuf coach Perry Bruzzese said it was an “administrative error” involving a new player – Mohan Kazi – who transferred from Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School last year.
“I guess they thought the paperwork was signed and handed in last year,” Bruzzese said. “It wasn’t. It was just an oversight. We just found out this week. Someone on the other team noticed.”
Bruzzese said the official paperwork was submitted Monday and he expects Kazi to be in the lineup for the next game.
“We’ll take this as a learning experience,” Bruzzese said. “We’ll turn it into a positive. It’s only a piece of paper. Everybody makes the playoffs. Our kids understand that. To go through this league you’ve got to beat the best to be the best. Down the stretch, no matter who you play you’ve got to win those games.”
The visiting Gaels blew Tuesday’s contest open by going on a 20-6 run in the second quarter. Cathedral led 39-20 at the half and 57-41 entering the fourth quarter.
Daniel Dzierzawski and Kareem Kollins paced the Gaels (5-1) with 23 and 20 points, respectively. Dylan Millar sank four three-point shots in the first half and finished with 16 points.
Brebeuf got 16 points from Rommel Calura while Veron Kalonji and Mark Douglin added eight apiece.
“You’ve got to hand it to Cathedral,” Bruzzese said. “They make you work for everything on every possession. In the first half we weren’t protecting the ball. We had a lot of turnovers. We certainly didn’t play as a team. It was we either got zero shots or one and done.”
Kollins, a Grade 12 student, drew the praise of Gaels’ coach Mark Maga for his two-way performance, strength and athletic ability.
“They didn’t have anybody that could match (Kollins) physically, inside and out,” Maga said. “It kind of created mismatches along the way. But it started with Kareem. I thought our guys played a solid game – probably our most complete game from start to finish in terms of defence and what we wanted to execute.”
Kollins said it felt good to go into the Christmas break with a victory, especially over a quality team like Brebeuf.
“We have a good defensive team,” Kollins said. “And we executed our offence. We got the ball down low and shared the ball. Every player had good looks.”
Cathedral would have been 6-0 at this stage if its season-opening victory over Cardinal Newman hadn’t been overturned because of an ineligible player (Sir John A. Macdonald transfer Andrew Smoke, who was in the lineup against Brebeuf). Cathedral reported the issue to the board the day after it was discovered there was an administrative problem.
“It was a mixup,” Maga said. “It was my fault. The player felt really bad and I felt even worse. I told our kids a forfeiture looks like a loss in the standings, but we know the outcome of the game. And the other team knows the outcome of the game.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday, in probably the game of the year so far, the St. Thomas More Knights defeated Cardinal Newman 56-54 in triple overtime. Osayi Ignuian led the Knights with 15 points. Jaylen Clarke sealed the victory with two free throws with no time left on the clock. The outcome improved More’s record to 4-2.
Play resumes on Jan. 7.