Written by Jas Grewal
Pound The Rock (PTR)
The Pound the Rock Basketball Association has been established to work with all members of the Ontario basketball community to help shape supporting systems for healthy and competitive play, and to also provide a social platform for players and supporters to interact. The newly found Rep League is comprised of a collection of good to great teams with varying levels of talent, therefore, allowing for a non-partial league where each team has an opportunity to compete against both non-elite and top level teams.
Sunday, February 8th marked the second session of the Major Midget Boys PTR league this year and there’s no doubt that the level of talent and skill emerging out of the GTA and, particularly, in this league, is impressive. From rim rocking throw down dunks that shook the foundation of Richmond Hill High School’s infrastructure to dazzling and aesthetically pleasing highlight plays made by unyielding teenagers, it’s fair to say that Sunday’s session – despite the wretched cold from outside breathing down our necks – did not disappoint.
Here’s a recap on some of the games that went down.
Recap of games on Sunday February 8th, 2015
W East York Basketball vs MUMBA (Final: 47-26)
Leading Scorers: [East York Basketball] #9 – (12 pts)
[MUMBA] Ryan Ramkaran – (5 pts)
W Brampton Breakdown (Bright) vs Brampton Breakdown (CJ) (Final: 102-43)
Leading Scorers: [Brampton Breakdown (Bright)] Kasha Khan – (17 pts)
[Brampton Breakdown (CJ)] Nicolas Williams – (13 pts)
BMD Falcons vs MUMBA W (Final: Forfeit Win 20-0)
Top Notch Stars vs Motion West W (Final: 68-74)
Leading Scorers: [Top Notch Stars] Jordan Sadehanbi – (14 pts)
[Motion West] Michael Okafor – (21 pts)
In yet another contest where the final result came down to the last minute or so, the Top Notch Stars found themselves in the losing column against an athletically gifted Motion West team. Okafor for Motion West was easily the most impressive player in the matchup and perhaps the most unique and all-around player at the PTR session. After trading baskets for a good portion of the first half – where both teams had trouble stopping one another from scoring on the inside – Motion West were able to slowly take hold of a nine point lead going into the half. Motion West’s Devonte Virgo didn’t score a whole lot but his lightening quick speed, with or without the ball, forced his squad to push the pace of the game on the offensive end while also forcing turnovers on the defensive side of things. His ability to breakdown the defence and create opportunities and also get from one side of the court to the other is few and far between amongst kids his age, and it’s partly why Motion West had no resistance while scoring in the first half. The second half belonged to Okafor as he took the onus to step up on the scoring end while at the same time playing rampant defense on the opposite side of the court. His ability to grab offensive rebounds – he’s freakishly long with an extensive wingspan – block shots and still be a menace on the offensive side (both from the perimeter and on the inside), proved to be too much for a unyielding Top Notch Stars team. Not only was he a force on the inside, but his ball handling skill – which could rival many point guards at the PTR session – as well as his shooting ability, forced defenders to think on the whim, which, more times than not, put them on skates (or at a simple disadvantage). It’s always tricky guarding players who possess a variety of moves on the offensive end, especially someone with a calm, poised temperament like Michael who has a capricious way of playing. In the end, it was more of Motion West taking the foot off the pedal than it was anything else that caused a sudden comeback, which saw the men in white win by six.
Motion North vs Silver Knights W (Final: 52-55)
Leading Scorers: [Motion North] S. Perth-Williams – (17 pts)
[Silver Knights] Tyler Lue – (12 pts)
W Toronto Core Basketball vs Motion North (Final: 98-39)
Leading Scorers: [Toronto Core Basketball] Evan Shadkemi – (23 pts) & Steve Rahwire – (22 pts)
[Motion North] Mason Carr – (6 pts)
Head and shoulders more talented than any other team in Sunday’s PTR session, Toronto Core Basketball epitomized what a winning team looks like. Being up 49-12 at half time against an overwhelmed Motion North team, Toronto Core were able to get the eventual 98-39 win in perhaps their easiest contest. Evan Shadkemi, Steve Rahwire and Peter Westranger were unstoppable in Sunday’s matinee as nobody with comparable size or talent stepped on the court as the three headed monster took the Bayview S.S. court by storm. Shadkemi – who was reminiscent of a seasoned vet with an unrivalled knack for scoring – was extremely impressive with his entire floor game. Scoring was his best quality, but passing and simply playing within the system were aspects of his game that surprised anyone who may have not seen him in action before. Rahwire – perhaps Toronto Core’s star player and best defender – was easily the most impressive player throughout Sunday’s session. No one player on any team could contain the 6’1” swingman who, despite receiving double teams continuously throughout each of his games – had a couple of rim rockers that had the crowd in an uproar. Shadkemi and Rahwire were also fundamentally sound, especially with respect to their shooting forms which – aesthetically at least – rivaled many NBA players including Canadian born Anthony Bennett (which Rahwire’s form compares to).
Although Motion North weren’t the most talented or a team with size, they had an invaluable level of heart and hustle, and it’s partly why they tripled their point total in the second half (in comparison to the first half). A tough and gritty coach – who was working his young men all game – coupled with resilient and strong-willed players made the latter half of the contest much better (and more competitive) than the first 16 minutes of action.
W Motion West vs BMD Falcons (Final: Forfeit 20-0)
W Gary Durrant Basketball vs Brampton Breakdown (CJ) (Final: 90-43)
Leading Scorers: [Gary Durrant Basketball] Georgi Nedyalkova – (22 pts)
[Brampton Breakdown (CJ)] Gregory Black — (15 pts)
Top Notch Stars vs Brampton Breakdown (Bright) W (Final: 68-74)
Leading Scorers: [Top Notch Stars] Elmo – (22 pts)
[Brampton Breakdown (Bright)] Daeshawn Wisdom – (17 pts)
In perhaps the closest and most competitive game throughout Sunday’s PTR session, the Brampton Breakdown (Bright) were able to pull off the six point win over a well-coached and unwavering Top Notch Stars club. Daeshawn Wisdom was a man on a mission as he pulled out the entire repertoire on the offensive end. His scoring prowess coupled with an innate passing ability and a cerebral, poised disposition– ala Damian Lillard – is beyond comparison (with anyone else on Sunday). Top Notch Stars – although not the most talented or biggest team – did everything within their capabilities to keep things close. Elmo led all scorers with 22 points, but it was his leadership on the court that was truly impressive. Save for a couple of turnovers and one bad offensive possession – near the latter part of the game – there’s no doubt that Top Notch could have come out victorious; instead, they found themselves holding the short-handed side of the stick, falling 74-68. The Brampton Breakdown (Bright) are relatively big on the inside, making it tough on smaller teams to have control on the defensive boards; in addition, their size forces teams to play more perimeter oriented, especially teams that lack any sort of inside presence. Terrel Hackette made sure second chance opportunities were limited for the Top Notch Stars, and it showed with his monster game on the glass.
Silver Knights vs Toronto Core Basketball W (Final: 66-79)
Leading Scorers: [Silver Knights] Jordan Anderson – (15 pts)
[Toronto Core Basketball] Steve Rahwire – (20 pts)
What was expected to be the most competitive and closely matched contest throughout the afternoon turned out to be a relatively easy win for Toronto Core Basketball; thus, granting them an undefeated (2-0) record by the end of the session. This contest belonged to both Rahwire and Westranger as both players made it their goal to push the tempo and run up the score from the first quarter on. After starting the game on a 27-11 run – where the crowd saw a thunderous tomahawk dunk from Rahwire and a consistent, heady Westranger driving to the basket at all costs – Toronto Core Basketball were able to hold on to a 15 point lead going into the half. The second half – although a much better outing for the Silver Knights who had Anderson and Lue firing on all cylinders – was reminiscent of the first 16 minutes of action for both squads. Unfortunately for the Silver Knights, both Rahwire and Westranger – who fits a John Wall type mold with respect to his speed, ball handling skill and knack for breaking down the primary defences – kept forcing the men in black to guard, which was much easier said than done. Rahwire’s size and uncanny ability to create opportunities on line-drives was too much to contain against an undersized Silver Knights squad. Couple that with Westranger’s relentless pursuit to getting to the basket (and a sort of confident ‘I can’t be stopped’ aura he fosters), there was little to nothing the Silver Knights could do to avert the loss.
Written by Jas Grewal
Edited by Drew Ebanks