By Larry Moko
The visiting Bishop Tonnos Titans were poised to pull off the biggest upset of the 2018-19 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior boys’ high school basketball season.
Last-place Tonnos held a one-point lead over the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves with just over a minute to play Thursday. However, Baron Bayne of the Braves fed a pass to teammate Ares Culley-Bremner in the low post for the go-ahead basket. Daniel Graham then connected on both of his free throws with 16.2 seconds remaining to give Brebeuf a 49-46 victory.
It was the seventh-straight loss for Tonnos, while the third-place Braves improved their record to 6-2.
In other HWCAA action, the first-place Cathedral Gaels defeated the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 62-40, and the Cardinal Newman Cardinals topped the St. Mary Crusaders, 54-50.
“Very close,” Tonnos coach Luc Didomede said of the contest which ended with an open-look three-point-shot attempt at the buzzer by the Titans.
“It was a good game. It’s their experience versus our lack of experience, right? Although the loss hurts, it will make us a better team with better players. We’re young (several Grade 9 and 10s on the court). It bodes well for us.”
“We look forward to playing teams like this that are highly skilled and highly disciplined,” the Titans coach said. “We’ll take it. When you play elite teams it can’t help but make you better.”
Brebeuf got 21 points by guard Daniel Graham and eight by Tavian Hart.
The Titans, who rallied from an eight-point deficit at the end of the third quarter, were paced by Cristian Craciun’s 14-point performance. Michael Frisina contributed 12 points, Lui Picone had 11 and Adrien Giardino added eight.
“It was a great effort by Tonnos,” Brebeuf coach Jae Dunphy said. “They certainly caught some of our guys napping.”
Graham’s offensive output included three consecutive steals which sent him racing to the other end for six straight points. Said Dunphy: “Daniel has been our rock all year long. He’s a game-changer defensively. He’s such a ball-hawk. He can rip guys’ hearts out with a key steal and finish at the other end because he’s so fast.
“With Cale Calura out (with a hand injury) Daniel knew he would have to shoulder more of a load. Daniel also controlled the ball and moved it around.”
A standout for the Titans was Craciun, a 6-foot-4 Grade 10 player. “He shows a lot of brilliance,” Didomede said. “He’s one of our silent leaders on the court. Cristian is something special. He’s going to be one to look for in the future.”
Dunphy said the Titans made timely shots and didn’t allow the Braves to go on any long runs.
The last time Brebeuf and Tonnos met – on Dec. 4 – the Braves scored a 65-28 victory.