Owls repeat as senior champs
Front Row from left: Dan Halos and Malcolm Manchester; Second Row: Kevin O'Halloran, Jackson Penner, Morey Doner and Alex Trottier. Top Row: Coach Bob Hirst, Scott Greves, Max Pfeiffer, Logan Madill, Jeff Thompson, Brad Niermann, Emerson Giles and Coach Joe Halos.
INNISFIL - Size, strength and shooting ability are three big assets when it comes to basketball.
The Collingwood Fighting Owls senior boys team displayed them all when they needed it the most.
Leading from start to finish, the Fighting Owls were sharp all around en route to winning their second consecutive Georgian Bay Secondary School Association's senior boys 'AAAA' basketball title, knocking off the host Nantyr Shores Tritons 61-39.
"We played great team defence, great team offence, and hustled the ball up the court," said Fighting Owls leading scorer Brad Niermann, who put up 13 points in the win.
Dan Halos and Jeff Thompson chipped in for Collingwood with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
"Our guys played hard the whole game," said Fighting Owls head coach Bob Hirst. "I was proud of the way the guys played tonight."
Calum Grenier scored a game-high 15 points for the Tritons, while R.J. Stacey added 11 for a team that just couldn't match up to Collingwood on Saturday.
"The difference was that they had a couple of weapons firing on all cylinders," said Tritons head coach Jeff Rosar. "They played their game, they hit the boards hard and made their shots, and when they do that, they're a tough team to beat.
Collingwood's big guys, Thompson, Niermann and Logan Madill were relentless in the paint, picking up a number of rebounds at both ends of the court, which led to some second-chance points.
Madill even picked up a fourth-quarter basket when he swatted at a loose ball off of a missed foul shot, knocking it into the hoop.
And when there was nothing to be had in the post, they kicked it out to Halos or Thompson, who both hit multiple three-pointers in the win.
"Getting the rebounds and kicking the ball out to those guys, we have trust in them," Niermann said.
While Nantyr Shores wasn't ever able to pull ahead, they did their best to keep the game close.
It almost paid off, as a 10-0 run early in the third quarter brought the Tritons to within a basket.
"We got a little bit out of our game and we needed to get back to distributing the ball," Hirst said. "Once we regrouped, we did extremely well."
Niermann scored from the paint and the foul line before Thompson drained a three-pointer as Collingwood went on a 12-0 stretch of its own to regain control of the contest, and win its second-straight title.
"It was big for us to go back-to-back," Niermann said. "It's the last year for some of us, but for those of us retuning, we'll want to do it again."
The next stop for Collingwood will be the Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Assocation's (OFSAA) 'AAAA' championships in Ottawa, beginning on March 5.
"OFSAA at the 'AAAA' level is a very tough challenge for us, but we hope to represent our conference well," Hirst said.
Even their opponents believe that they should get a higher incoming ranking than dead last, which the Fighting Owls came in with in 2011.
"I really hope they don't get ranked as low as they do, because they deserve a higher ranking than what they give our region," Rosar said.
If they're to be successful, the Fighting Owls will have to do what they do best.
"We just have to keep playing good defence and offence, and keep hustling out there," Niermann said.