Make room in the display case for the first sports trophy in the history of the new Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School.
It’s a consolation championship award that the Celtic junior boys’ basketball team won on Sunday (Feb. 2) at the annual Father Kennedy Memorial All-Catholic Invitational tournament in Hamilton.
Bishop Ryan, of course, has captured many trophies for athletic achievement over the years but this is the first since the school moved to its new location on Rymal Road last month.
The Celtics defeated Resurrection Phoenix of Kitchener, 59-54, at the St. Thomas More gym to take top honours on the consolation side of the 16-team, two-day competition. In the semi-final, Bishop Ryan topped Burlington Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 53-41. On Saturday, the Celtics fell 44-29 to St. Benedict Saints of Cambridge before bouncing back with a 70-51 win over Milton Bishop Reding Royals.
When tournament convener and founder George Luciani presented the trophy, he pointed out that it’s the first piece of hardware Bishop Ryan has ever received in 27 years of trying at the Kennedy. This year marked the 37th running of the tournament.
“I had no idea,” Bishop Ryan coach Serge Fuca said of the drought. “It’s not THE championship, but it’s a start for us. It’s been a while since we’ve been at this tournament.”
The overall championship, for the second consecutive year, went to Jean Vanier Jaguars of Richmond Hill. They scored a convincing 65-53 decision over Toronto St. Michael’s College Blue Raiders.
Matthew McDonald and Mike Bonomo of the Celtics were selected to the second all-star team along with another Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association player, Bardhi Popaj of Cathedral Gaels.
McDonald, a forward, scored a combined 41 points in his team’s final two games. Jacob Gosk added 21 against Resurrection.
“We needed Matthew to score in this tournament and that’s what he did,” Fuca said. “For a big guy who has grown a lot in the last couple of years, he has got some serious co-ordination to him. He can catch the ball on the run like a receiver. He can lead the break for us and he finishes really well around the net.”
According to the Celtics coach, McDonald is faster than a lot of the Bishop Ryan guards doing sprints. And along with Gosk, the pair provides good height, shot-block ability and an offensive threat.
“We were up at the half against St. Benedict, one of the better teams in the province,” said Fuca, who Celtics are currently tied with St. Thomas More Knights for fourth in the HWCAA standings with a record of 5-5.
In the championship final, Jean Vanier got 27 points by tournament MVP Kascius Small-Martin. Dean Andrade added 20.
St. Mike’s outstanding Grade 9 guards, Marcus Carr and Jonathan Kabongo, answered with 25 and 12 points, respectively. The teams were tied, 22-22, at the intermission but the Jaguars raced to a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
“I have a very special group of student athletes,” said coach Carlos Faria, whose Jaguars also went home with a Kennedy consolation championship in 2012. “My players are very cerebral. They are able to understand what I expect of them. They share the ball and play together. They have a wonderful chemistry. I’d say that’s the key to our team.”
The Jaguars are 32-4 overall this season. One of their losses was by three points to St. Mike’s.
Said Faria: “Kascius is our leader. He’s strong and has a great attitude. He’ll be in Division 1 with a full scholarship. I’ve already been contacted by Baylor University.”
Jean Vanier advanced to the final with a 37-35 overtime victory over St. Benedict, while St. Mike’s earned its berth by defeating Oakville Holy Trinity Titans, 63-53.
Along with Small-Martin the first all-star team was comprised of Zubair Seyed, St. Benedict; Nathan Rourke, Holy Trinity; Carr and Kabongo, St. Mike’s; Andrade, Jean Vanier.
Cathedral reached the consolation semi-final before falling, 59-55, to Resurrection. Zachary Zarzuela and Popaj each tossed in 13 points for the Gaels in the loss.