A/AA champs seek an OFSAA gold

PART OF THE UNIT: Brandon John, an import from Lawrence Park two seasons ago, will be a key member of Vaughan Road Academy’s pursuit for OFSAA gold in St. Catharines. His teammate Johneil Simpson share the Vipers share of work.

Vipers’ defensive game will be put to the test at provincial playoffs

Vaughan Road’s boys are matching the senior girls’ basketball efforts by booking their ticket to the OFSAA A/AA championships.

After a decisive 90-60 win over Runnymede — the same team the girls faced in their own City final — the Vipers will travel to St. Catharines to test their mettle at the provincial level.

A day before their City Championship match, Vaughan Road coach Wilton Hall spoke of the challenges his team has faced during their 2011-12 campaign.

One was the loss of two key players due to the transfer rule. But in the face of adversity, Brandon John and Johneil Simpson, also former transfer students from Lawrence Park and Riverdale CI respectively, have stepped up.

“Since we couldn’t use those two transfers in the playoffs under the Section G rule for TDSSAA, Johneil and Brandon have become our two leaders in scoring,” Hall said.

Both guards have been instrumental in powering the team through the playoffs, in particular John, who scored 23 points against the Ravens. Along with Rakim McFarlane, the team’s talent runs deeper than the starting five.

Hall admitted the Ravens posed a limited threat to his Vipers defensive unit.

“The Runnymede boys, no one declared to go to A/AA OFSAA, so they got a bye all the way to the finals,” he said. “They didn’t have to play any games.”

However, Vaughan Road had to fend off Parkdale on Feb. 16, winning 75-34, and then side-step Stephen Leacock CI, 77-63 on Feb. 21.

In their previous run-in with the Ravens Jan. 19, at Runnymede, the Vipers won 61-39. Alex Dawkins led his teammates with a dozen points.

“Honestly, (the A/AA) game I’m going to run over all our systems, offence/defence,” Hall said. “Since we’re going against Runnymede I think I should be able to get every player into the game and give everybody a last chance.”

When it came to OFSAA, Hall said it will be all about defence, and given their overall record of 25-5, including tournament games, playoffs and a perfect 6-0 regular season, Vaughan Road will have an advantage.

“I think based on our record this year, we’re going to have a good seeding at OFSAA,” he said. “Our goal is to go there and win it.
“I think if everything comes together and we play the way we’re supposed to, we have a good shot.”

Though it won’t be an easy transition.

“The only challenge I see is that we don’t know who we’re playing and I haven’t seen the teams,” Hall said. “It will be a great challenge but our team is looking forward to it.

“Everything comes off our defence,” he said. “Once we play defence, we can play with anybody in the city, whether it’s A, AA or AAAA.”

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