Osayi Iginuan’s considerable skill on the basketball court doesn’t really interest scouts from Wilfrid Laurier University.
But his prowess on the football field gets them very excited.
The star running back/defensive end for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high school league champion St. Thomas More Knights has agreed to attend Laurier next fall and play for the Golden Hawks football team. Hawks’ head coach Michael Faulds is scheduled to be at More when Iginuan officially puts pen to paper in a signing ceremony on Wednesday (Dec. 17).
“Osayi has a great combination of strength, speed and power,” Faulds recently said of the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder who also excelled in the Ontario Football Conference for the varsity Hamilton Hurricanes.
Iginuan showed what he can do on the hardwood on Tuesday (Dec. 16), scoring eight points and grabbing a handful of rebounds to help the visiting Knights defeat the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 57-45. The outcome improved More’s record to 3-3 and dropped Tonnos to 2-4.
“He’s very tough,” Tonnos’ coach Steve Maga said of Iginuan, the starting More centre. “He’s a physical force. But the thing that differentiates him from just a football player playing basketball is his finishing touch underneath. He’s got it.”
Mark Moretuzzo has coached Iginuan for two years of junior and now three at the senior level.
“Osayi is probably our best overall defender,” Moretuzzo said. “He’s a real physical body, a good rebounder and he goes hard to the hole. He’s not a great offensive guy, but we’re pleased with what he brings to the team.”
Evaluating his own game, Iginuan says he’s learning and his foul shooting has really improved over the years.
“I’ve come a long way in handling the ball and making smart decisions,” he said. “I’m more of a defensive player but I can get easy buckets.”
The Knights led all the way – 13-10, 34-19 and 47-33 at the quarter breaks. More’s other top scorers were Derrick Sealy (12), Jaylen Clarke (10), Philip Robinson (9) and Joel Clarke (8).
Blake Anderson and Evan Kirkelos were the leading scorers for the Titans with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Shawn Daly and Mark Robinson added seven apiece.
More connected on 8-of-10 shots from 3-point range in the first half and Maga said his team made a concerted effort to limit the long-range opportunities after the intermission.
Said Moretuzzo: “We had a great start … eight threes in the first half. As we told the guys, more than likely we weren’t going to shoot the ball that well in the second half, so we really had to try to get to the hole.
“We’re more of an inside team. (Shots) just seemed to be going down for us tonight. We usually don’t score this many points.”
The Knights got to the final of the tournament that they hosted last weekend – defeating HWCAA rival Cardinal Newman Cardinals — before losing to the Bishop Reding Royals. “We’re hoping things are turning around for us,” Moretuzzo said. “Come playoff time, we think we’ll be right in the mix.”
Maga said his team battled particularly hard in the closing minutes because points scored for and against breaks a tie if teams in the final standings have the same win-loss records.
“We did enough to battle and keep it close,” the Titans coach said. “But, at some point, that has to be not good enough for our team. We’ve got to make sure were in a position to win games not just ‘keep it close.’”
Over the Christmas break, More will be participating in the Brock University Invitational tournament, Jan. 2-4. As for the Titans, they’re entered along with St. Mary, Cathedral, Bishop Ryan, M. M. Robinson and St. Thomas Aquinas, in the P.J. Daly tournament which runs from Dec. 27-28 at Bishop Ryan.