Arnprior District High School is sending a Senior Boys basketball team to the provincial championships for the first time in modern times.
Heading to the provincials.
Members of the ADHS senior boys Redmen include in back Phil Moore (head coach), Jake Dunn (manager), Liam Dey, Jeff Campbell, Mike Shoveller, Brad Kasaboski, Andrew MacAulay, Cody Moore, Jaegar Prot, Bruce Shoveller (assistant coach); and in front Connor Schriver, Nathan Toman, Ryan Kargus, Richard Jorgensen, and Chad Brennan.
The host Redmen shocked the three-time defending Eastern Ontario Champs from Smiths Falls 51-43 last Thursday in the opening game of the Eastern Ontario AA championships.
That win over the tournament’s top seed proved to be the key to qualifying for the provincials, as a 66-27 win late in the day against the St. Thomas Aquinas Ravens of Prescott-Russell put the Redmen into the semi-final against Holy Trinity of Cornwall instead of second-seed and eventual tournament winner, LaSalle of Kingston.
Expecting a tough match with Holy Trinity Friday morning, ADHS jumped out to a 14-5 lead and never looked back, winning 59-35.
A large crowd helped the team elevate its game, said coach Phil Moore. “They were certainly pleased to play in front of friends, family and their peers.”
The Redmen lost the final to a strong LaSalle team, but had already qualified for the provincials.
“We were playing catch-up the whole game,” said Moore. “They’re a strong team with all the tools – skill size and quickness.”
His team probably suffered a let-down after clinching a berth in the provincials before an excited home crowd earlier in the day, he said. “But our poor shooting (25 per cent from the floor) didn’t help.”
While ADHS sent basketball teams to the provincials in the late 1970s, this is the first time a squad has qualified through the EOSSA route.
Against Smiths Falls, which had beaten Arnprior by 20 points early in the season, the Redmen jumped out to an early 11-2 lead and went into the locker room at half time ahead 32-27. Missed shots and a stingy Red Hawk defense saw the Arnprior boys fall behind 41-39.
However, the Redmen dug deep and pushed back, outscoring the Red Hawks 12-2 the rest of the way to win 51-43. Andrew McAuley had a huge game scoring 21 points.
Cody Moore, Mike Shoveller, Jaegar Prot and Conner Schriver also had big games on both sides of the ball.
One of the keys was keeping the turnovers down to an almost unheard of six, said Moore. The team also came up with an impressive 28 defensive and 12 offensive rebounds.
The win over St Thomas Aquinas was highlighted by three spectacular dunks in the fourth quarter including a windmill ally-oop by McAuley.
In the win over Holy Trinity, Prot was on fire, hitting three threes in scoring 17 points. Mike Shoveller added 13 for the Redmen.
“We thought they’d be really tough,” said Moore, noting ADHS had eked out 10- and two-point victories over Holy Trinity in tournament play. As well, LaSalle had almost been upset by Holy Trinity before winning 68-64 the day before.
After building up a quick lead in the crucial semi-final match, ADHS cooled down in the second quarter, to lead 22-16 at half-time. But they exploded in the second half for the 24-point win.
Moore, who coaches the team with help from Bruce Shoveller, expects ADHS will be seeded between ninth and 12th in the 16-team provincial tournament, which runs March 3 to 6. LaSalle could be seeded in the top six, he noted.
He said he’ll be telling his players to “soak up the experience” at the provincials, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime happening. “I’ve been coaching for 22 years and it’s my first time,” he said.
He said his team will be an underdog, but if they play hard and smart they could surprise their opponents.
FUNDRAISER AT METRO
Attending the provincial tournament will cost the ADHS Redmen close to $6,000, as the team will be in Toronto for four days.
To help defray some of the costs, players will be at the Arnprior Metro store this Saturday, March 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. conducting a fund-raising raffles. Shoppers buying tickets could win the cost of their grocery purchase.
Moore said if there are any area businesses interested in helping the team financially it would be helpful. “Give me a call at the school,” he said. “Any and all donations are much appreciated.”