Upset special

Colin Elvie and Staige Harvey are all smiles as the Simcoe Sabres are crowned NSSAA senior basketball champions at Holy Trinity Friday. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

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The Simcoe Sabres senior basketball team knew that dethroning the Holy Trinity Titans in Friday’s NSSAA final would require a near perfect effort.
That’s exactly what they put forth.
Seven Sabres hit the scoresheet, six of which poured in five points or more as Simcoe knocked off the defending county champs and previously unbeaten Titans 61-52 on their home floor.
Every inch of the court and every possession was hotly contested – big contributors on both sides like Titan Shyheim Thomas and Simcoe centre Braydon Baskerville fouled out early, but Simcoe never backed down and held a strong belief a win on the biggest stage wasn’t just possible, but attainable.
“We just pushed through it man,” said Simcoe’s Staige Harvey, who had one of his best outings of the year with 12 points. “We practiced hard throughout the week, we got into a semi-final game (vs. Waterford on Thursday) and we knew we had to get here and do what we had to do. When we got here we just didn’t let off the gas. We kept pushing.”
“We got that first bucket and felt confident,” Harvey continued. “We were like ‘this is our game’ and the team just came together.”
Simcoe built up a large lead early on, only to have the Titans storm back to within one at recess. With Thomas in foul trouble in the third, he came off the bench but was promptly called for his fifth and final infraction. While the score would change hands at different points down the stretch, Simcoe pulled away led by Colin Elvie and his eight fourth-quarter points and Barrow, who hit two of his five three-pointers in the final stanza.
“I thought (this) was possible right off the bat,” Barrow said. “Our whole team was talking about it like ‘we have a chance, this is our game’… as soon as we got into the game and got a little bit of a lead we were like ‘we can do this’.”
The Sabres will get an opportunity to play in the CWOSSA double-A tournament beginning Feb. 22 but they were too busy basking in the glow of a major upset to worry about the future on Friday night.
“It’s my first time ever winning a NSSAA championship so that means the world to me right now and everyone on my team,” said Barrow.
Back in October, a number of Sabres experienced a tough defeat at the hands of McKinnon Park in the Haldimand-Norfolk Football League semi-final. Any bad memories from that contest were washed away for dual-sport athletes like Harvey, Barrow, and ‘Big Al’ Alex Forde.
“It’s great, especially for (senior) guys like (Forde) and Reid (Rivard),” Harvey said. “They pushed us this year. At the end of the day, it’s a championship and you’ve got to be happy with that.”

Delhi’s Liam Ward puts up a shot during the NSSAA junior basketball final at Holy Trinity on Friday. Ward and the Raiders won their first junior crown since 2010 by defeating top-ranked Waterford.JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer

The Delhi Raiders saved the best for last.
In one of the most hotly contested and exciting final games you’ll see, the Raiders were one shot better than the previously unbeaten Waterford Wolves in capturing the NSSAA junior basketball title.
Delhi came into the contest having lost two games to the Wolves by a combined 24 points but built up leads of ten at various points on Friday.
Led by an all-star (and game-leading 31-point) performance by Taye Lovell – who hit a clutch free throw with 5.1 seconds remaining in regulation – the Wolves whittled the deficit down to nothing before the end of the fourth.
In overtime, Delhi got the lead early and held on for a 62-59 victory.
“There was lots of intensity, lots of good (players) and we just felt like we had to have hunger and drive for that ball,” said Delhi’s Liam Ward.
Ward went to the line with his team up one and just a few seconds on the clock and a chance to effectively put a dagger into the hearts of the top-seeded Wolves.
The freshman looked well beyond his years in doing so. Ward hit one of his 16 points, which forced Waterford to put up a prayer in the dying moments that went unanswered.
“I was just thinking ‘it’s 0-0 and if you sink these, you’re ahead’, that’s all,” Ward said.
Waterford not only sat atop the NSSAA standings all season but had rarely played in a close contest, but with centre Mitchell Rainey absent at a hockey game and sharpshooter Ben Baruth fouling out early, WDHS was behind the eight-ball.
Delhi dealt with some adversity of their own as their centre Jaxson Zurby (who had 16 points) fouled out late in the fourth and speedster Tre Hodder-Turcotte did the same midway through the extra session. Through it all, the Raiders believed they could knock Waterford from their perch atop the county.
“It was just the intensity,” said Ward. “We knew we could beat them. Before we were just messing up, we worked on passing, shooting, everything and we just got to it.”
The Raiders will enjoy a short ride to the CWOSSA single-A tournament with the proceedings taking place in Waterford Feb. 22.
On Friday though, the Raiders were ready to celebrate a well-earned victory.
“It just feels amazing,” said Ward. “I have tons of love for my team, we all did it, not just one person.”

jrobinson@postmedia.com

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