After watching him play one year of junior basketball, Greater Fort Erie coach Dave Adams knew Micah Stewart was ready for senior basketball.
“It was a given,” he said. “In my mind, it was a no brainer and in his mind too.”
Adamek asked the 15-year-old where he wanted to play about a month before the season started and the 6-foot-3 forward put it right back on his coach.
“He asked me where he should be,” he said. “On top of being a great basketball player, he is one of the nicest kids in the world. I think he made the right choice to play senior.”
Stewart certainly looked like he belonged Thursday, scoring 19 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, to help the Gryphons defeat the St. Catharines Collegiate Saints 72-64 in the consolation semifinals of the 57th Annual Standard High School Basketball Tournament.
Stewart agreed he needed some convincing that he was ready to play senior.
“Junior ball is awesome to play, but the competition level of senior ball will allow me to succeed a lot more,” the Niagara Rangers travel player said. “It has been a great move because I believe I have a significant role on this team and I have to step up every game and do my best to help this team.”
He’s been able to make the adjustments required to compete against older players.
“Our team is really small so we can’t really drive all game against the bigger teams in the tournament so we have to work on our three-point game,” he said. “That is one of the things I worked on in the off-season; to be consistent with my shot and work on nailing it.”
Better shooting is only one of the things Stewart will be working on this season.
“I want to become more on an all-around player and play better defence as well,” he said. “I want to help the team in every way, shape and form.”
Adamek feels his rookie has done just that.
“He’s a heckuva player,” he said. “He is in Grade 10 and he is right up there as one of our most valuable guys.
“He can shoot, he can handle the ball for a forward, he can box out and his basketball IQ is fantastic. He is a really nice guy to have on the team. “
Collegiate led Thursday’s game at Ridley College 19-12 after one quarter and 40-31 at the half before running out of gas in the second half.
“I think we lost momentum at some point and we struggled to get it back,” Collegiate coach Allison Mauro said. “There was a few glitches, the press got to us and we struggled to break the press early on.
“They figured it out, but it was too little, too late.”
Mauro was encouraged by what she saw from her team in the three games it played in the Standard tournament.
“It’s only one tournament and it would obviously have been nice to make it to Friday night, but we are only one game in our league season,” she said. “We are excited for what is coming and I think we will go far in the season and far in the playoffs.”
Adamek was impressed with the Saints.
“Those guys played an exciting game,” he said. “They were physical and they were beating us all over the place, especially the first two quarters, and they were making shots.”
The game changed, thanks to the Gryphons’ press.
“We are a fast team and I know we can shoot the ball,” Adamek said. “The more possessions we get, the more it will work out in our favour in the long run.”
Gryphons 72 Saints 64
No Limit Performance/Kully’s Player of the Game: GFESS’s Ethan Vanatter with 12 points and Collegiate’s Jerrell Plumadore with 14 points.
For the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons: Austin Ladouceur 24; Micah Stewart 19; Vanatter 12; Zack Tyrell 5; Donovan Morgan 5; Avery Parker 4; John 3
For the St. Catharines Collegiate Saints: Tykree Llewellyn 26; Plumadore 14; Sheldon Brown 8; Justin Crawford 5; Clayton Thomas-Harris 5; Joseph Waterman 4; Nathan Taylor 2.