Game On: 2023-24 Senior Boys' Basketball

Game On: 2023-24 HWCDSB Senior Boys' Basketball Season Tips Of
Posted on 12/06/2023

By Larry Moko
The 2023-24 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior boys’ high school basketball season tipped off Tuesday night and one of the teams appeared to have undergone a ‘big’ change.

The Cathedral Gaels, who defeated the visiting St. Thomas More Knights 50-35 in the opener, featured more height up front than in past years.

"We’ve never had four guys on our forward line who are either 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5,” veteran Cathedral coach Luca Fortino said. “Not on the same team in the same year. They sub in for each other.

“We’ve been big and athletic, but not like this.”

Cathedral trailed 23-21 in the first minute of the second half before going on an 11-0 run. The Gaels then took a 37-30 lead into the fourth quarter and never looked back.

Josh Granger Bigford led the Cathedral attack with 19 points. Wayne Bennett added seven points, while Jaden Campbell and Andrae Astwood contributed six apiece.

For More, Basam Bilal tossed in 17 points and Colin Ball chipped in with eight.

“They’re big, for sure, and we’re not,” More coach Stef Giovannangeli said. “We don’t have a lot of size on this team.

"Cathedral did a good job of pushing the ball, working it inside and rebounding. They are an excellent rebounding team.”

According to the More coach, his squad needed to do a better job of boxing out under the basket. “We did too much watching,” he said.

Offensively, both teams struggled with their shooting.

“We couldn’t capitalize on our defence in terms of scoring on offence,” Giovannangeli said. “We also had a very poor shooting performance.”

Said Fortino: “We weren’t hitting our shots tonight. We were 1-of-11 (from 3-point range) in the first half. So we really had to settle in with our defence first and find a way to win that way. It was ugly.”

The Cathedral coach pointed out that the Knights always provide tough competition.

“They’re a physical team just like us,” he said. “They play fast-paced aggressive basketball and get to the rim.”
Giovannangeli predicts it will be a competitive league this season with four or five teams challenging for the title.
“I think we’ll be in the mix,” he said. “Our practices have been excellent. The guys have been working hard. The effort is there. It’s the execution side of it that we’re struggling with right now.”

In preseason action, More won two of its three starts at the Welland Notre Dame tournament. As for the Gaels, they captured a bronze medal on home court at the 13-annual Mark Walton tournament last weekend.

The eight-team Mark Walton event at Cathedral was won by Hamilton’s St. John Henry Newman Cardinals. They got past Pickering in the final.

Fortino said he expects the Cathedral front-court players to improve and impose their will on the opposition.
“They are learning to use their body and be more aggressive,” he said. “They should be able to get inside and get more rebounds than we’re used to.”

In other Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league contests Tuesday, defending champion Newman topped the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves, 58-46, the Bishop Ryan Celtics downed the ACMT Jaguars, 56-48, and the Bishop Tonnos Titans defeated the St. Mary Crusaders, 70-49.


Deflected shot on basket

Slam Dunk

Group clustered

Close up intense

Photos by Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

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