By Larry Moko
During the three years Jae Dunphy has been coaching St. Jean de Brebeuf senior boys’ high school basketball, he’s never seen his Braves shoot any better from long range than they did Thursday.
Through the first three quarters of their game, the Braves sank 14 of 18 shot attempts from behind the arc. And propelled by all those three pointers, Brebeuf went on to defeat the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 87-41, in a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic semifinal playoff.
The other semifinal saw the first-place Cathedral Gaels top the St. Mary Crusaders, 79-50.
The Gaels and the second-place Braves will meet for the league title Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Cathedral.
“We were just lights out tonight,” veteran Brebeuf guard Cale Calura said. “We were in rhythm. It’s playoffs. We came out to play.”
The Braves ended up with 16 three-pointers in 23 tries. And, overall, the Braves went 32 of 49 from the field.
Calura and Baron Bayne each scored 23 points, while their Brebeuf teammates Josh Omojafo and Tavian Hart netted 10 points apiece.
For Tonnos, which trailed 22-10, 44-24 and 69-31 at the quarter breaks, George Pashkja tossed in 14 points. Cristian Craciun added 11 and Mark Faber chipped in with 10.
“They were going in today so I said keep shooting,” Dunphy said of the perimeter attack.
“We’re not going to go out there tomorrow and think suddenly we’re the best 3-point shooting team in the league. Because we’re not. But if we’re getting them in rhythm and open spaces like that you’ve got to let them fly.”
Dunphy said the Braves lineup also features some players with size and great leaping ability who can come down with offensive rebounds on any missed shots from outside.
“Baron (seven 3s) is a streaky shooter for us,” Dunphy said. “When he gets hot, watch out. They come right off his finger tips and his release is very quick.
“Cale usually attacks the rim a bit more in his game. But today he felt it. He hit those first two shots and kept letting it fire. We’ve encouraged him to shoot a few more 3s. Cale shoots a fairly high percentage but he’s so proficient at getting to the rim and he’s got such great footwork that we can’t fault him when he puts it on the deck.”
The Braves lost to the third-place Titans (8-6) at a tournament in Grimsby but then won both times in league play – 62-54 and 64-61.
“They’re a good team,” Calura said. “The three times we played them before were all close games. So we weren’t going to take them lightly.”
Cathedral’s regular-season record was 14-0, including 74-68 and 79-64 decisions over Brebeuf (12-2).
In HWCAA junior semifinal action, More topped Brebeuf, 65-58, while Newman edged Cathedral, 50-46. And at the novice level, semifinal results were: More 75 Cathedral 35; Newman 53 Bishop Ryan 44.
The novice, junior and senior championship tripleheader at Cathedral Thursday begins at 3:30 p.m. with the novice contest.