Greater Fort Erie's Ethan VanNatter, with the ball, is defended by Westlane in Niagara Falls Review High School Boys Basketball Tournament consolation championship action Friday night in Niagara Falls. BERND FRANKE/St. Catharines Standard
Day 2 of the Niagara Falls Review High School Boys Basketball Tournament is all about comebacks for teams on the consolation side of the bracket.
Qualifying-round losers have two chances to end the eight-team competition on a winning note, giving their programs something to build on heading into the playoffs less than two weeks from now.
At this year’s tournament the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons were the team that made the most of the opportunity. Niagara’s newest high school rebounded from an opening-round loss to St. Michael by defeating Stamford 68-44 in the semifinals and host Westlane 56-29 to win the consolation championship.
Austin Ladouceur, selected his team’s player of the game after leading all scorers in the B final with 17 points, said the Gryphons returned to the court Friday morning knowing they needed to “pick some momentum.”
Rather than dwell solely on how rusty and out of sync they were in a 57-35 loss to St. Michael, they needed to build on positives from that game.
“We needed to be in the right mindset for the games today,” the 6-foot guard said.
He called the loss to the Mustangs a wakeup call.
“It definitely got us to check and see where we need to be.”
Ladouceur suggested playing two games in one day, while exhausting to some players, could be an advantage, with momentum from the first carrying over into the second.
“It definitely could be an advantage if you have a good first game.”
Ladouceur’s biggest individual takeaway from the tournament was the need for improved defence going forward.
“We tend to switch defences a lot,” he said. “I think we need to work on one and just go from there.”
Once again, all 12 games in the 40th edition of the tournament were played at Westlane, but Spartans guard Daniyal Siddiqui didn’t feel extra pressure playing on his homecourt.
“Not really, because we have great fans right here,” the Grade 12 student said after competing in his second, and final, Review Tournament.
“We are disappointed that we lost, but I think overall we did have better defence.”
He was proud of the team’s work ethic.
“To us, we never want to get outworked by someone and I’m pretty sure we hustled,” Siddiqui said. “There were a few shots that weren’t falling for us.”
Joel Coopman, with 16 points; Ethan VanNatter, 13; Darcy Allen, four; Bailee Wangler, three; Andrew Rouble, two; and Donovan Morgan, one; also scored for Greater Fort Erie.
The Gryphons have made a habit of making it to the final night of high school tournaments in the region. They won the consolation championship at the Standard Tournament in St. Catharines and were the consolation finalst at the Tribune Tournament one month later in Welland.
Putting points on the scoreboard for Westlane, which lost 50-45 to A.N. Myer on Day 1 and defeated Niagara Christian 53-34 in the semifinal round, were Dudley Kou, 16; Siddiqui, six; Deep Dhillon, five; Kyle Daneliuk, one; and Bailey Schaefer, one.
Niagara Christian defeated Stamford 58-51 in the seventh-place final.