Richview’s senior boys basketball team has bounced into unfamiliar territory this season: They are city champions and OFSAA bronze medal winners.
Usually known for its high calibre football and baseball programs, the Islington and Eglinton area school can now add hoops to their list of successful athletics programs, coach Raymond Tone says.
But claiming AA bronze March 9 wasn’t always foreseen.
“Grade 12 is kind of a crazy year,” Tone said, while taking a break from teaching. “(Our players’) concern primarily is getting into university.
“It seemed like we were distracted, going into the break,” he added. “We stumbled in at 8-8 going in, through exhibition games and league games.”
But like a New Year’s resolution, the squad came back in January on the wings of captain Scott Morrison and a solid roster that has been together since grade 9.
“Everybody bought into what the coaches were selling, and the way we needed to play in order to be successful,” Tone said.
Their record from January to OFSAA was 16-5, only losing 70-62 to Martingrove Bears in the city semifinals. Then to qualify for AA OFSAA the team stormed past Kipling (88-56) and Stephen Leacock (65-50).
Co-coach Stath Koumoutseas credited a league game against George Harvey as the turning point. Though the squad lost, their efforts in the second half spilled into the remainder of the season, including OFSAA in North Bay, Ont.
Opening their provincial tournament with a 68-48 win over Our Lady of Lourdes from Guelph, Morrison led all scorers with 19.
Game two would be another victory, 55-47, against École Secondaire Publique Louis-Riel from Gloucester. Chevon Brown had 17 points, as Morrison bowed out of the match with an ankle sprain.
It was that injury that sent the Saints into win mode, especially Brown.
“If you’re asking me what the difference was going forward — we’ve got a kid on our team named Chevy Brown,” Tone said. “He’s an athlete I haven’t seen in a very long time. He was the x-factor.”
Brown would net 18 points in a 58-38 win over Sir Allan MacNab of Hamilton, and add 19 more in an upsetting 49-47 loss to Smith Falls.
“I felt like we should have won because we got their best player in foul trouble — he got fouled out of the game in the third quarter,” Brown said of their first loss at OFSAA.
Still, he took the words of his injured captain to heart.
“(Scott) told me that I needed to carry the team,” he said. “There’s no other point guard on the team so then I just did what I had to do.”
Heading into the bronze medal game against Sault Ste. Marie school St. Basil’s, both Brown and teammate T.J. Rutty kept their eyes on the prize.
“I said we’ve got to go away with a medal,” Rutty said. “It’s not always fun to play for third sometimes but I’d rather go home with a bronze and wear it proudly.
“I went into the game, emotions were flying because it was my last game with this bunch of guys,” he added. “I played my best and came out on top.”
The result was 54-46, favouring Richview. Patrick Street had 21 points, Brown 17.
Losing Morrison, the team’s high scorer, had the best effect on the team, as they used it to press on. That dedication impressed Tone.
“The way these kids rallied around each other and absorbed that loss and pressed on for bronze, that’s pretty neat,” he said.