The Silver Fox is proving to be an elusive prize for Hamilton high school boys’ basketball teams.
The last Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association entry to capture the championship at the prestigious Teachers Life Silver Fox Invitational tournament was the St. Thomas More Knights. And that was in 2001.
The HWCAA is represented by three teams this year – the Cardinal Newman Cardinals, the St. Thomas More Knights, and the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves — but only the Cardinals saw action during Day 1 of the three-day event on Thursday (Jan. 30). Despite playing a league game only a few hours earlier, Newman got off to an impressive start at the 43rd Silver Fox, defeating Milton’s Bishop Reding Royals, 57-40.
Many of the most talented teams from across Ontario have converged on Hamilton and are vying for top honours. Games are being played at Saltfleet District, More, Glendale and Newman gyms.
“This is one of the premier tournaments in the province,” Newman coach Andrew Sergi said. “It would be huge if we were able to win it.”
Although the Cardinals are two-time defending champions in the Hamilton Catholic league and provincial Quad A bronze medalists in 2013, they have never been able to bag a Silver Fox title. Last year, Newman finished third.
Marko Grahovac and Tyler Brown tossed in 14 points apiece for Newman, while Josh Nardini added 13.
Christian David, a 6-foot-6 forward, led the attack for the young Royals, netting 13 points.
Sergi said Brown turned in a solid performance at guard in the absence of veteran David McCulloch who, according to Sergi, may not be available for the remainder of the tournament due to a leg injury suffered in the HWCAA afternoon contest against the Cathedral Gaels. Sergi said he may want to rest McCulloch for an important league start against St. Thomas More next Thursday. That contest could decide first place.
“We needed Tyler,” Sergi said. “Without David, he becomes the focal point for our offence. And I liked the way Jeff Baradziej (6-foot-5) played for a Grade 10 player. He picked up two early fouls and didn’t let that get him out of his game.”
The score was 20-20 in the second quarter, but the Cardinals took a 26-22 lead into the intermission. Newman then increased its advantage to 12 points (43-31) heading into the fourth quarter.
“We only had seven players available, but every guy contributed to the win,” Sergi said. “From the second quarter on we did a good job of taking them out of their comfort zone on offence. I was pleased with the way we played defensively and, in the second half, we really executed our offence. We were getting a lot of good looks.”
The tournament championship goes Saturday at 6 p.m. at Saltfleet.
Other Silver Fox results:
Saltfleet 58 (Nick Pett 12), Brantford North Park 48 (Matt Minutillo 19)
Kitchener St. Mary’s 77 (Tesloth Simon 38), Oakville St. Ignatius of Loyola 48 (Daryl Jean 12)
Oakville Holy Trinity 64 (Lucas Orlita 17), Chatham Kent 31 (Marley Blommers 7)
Burlington Nelson 84 (Filip Vujadinovic 20), Westmount 57 (Levi Tyrell, 12, Jas Singh 12)
Sault St. Marie Korah 64 (Jonah Fogg 19), Kitchener Cameron Heights 56 (Sasha Simic 18).
Windsor Herman, Toronto Oakwood and Father Henry Carr of Etobicoke and J. C. Richardson of Ajax are some of the more high profile challengers in the field.