Knights take the crown

[attach]6785[/attach]Capping an undefeated season in front of your home crowd is very rare, especially for the Royal St. George’s College Knights.

The small private school in the Annex hasn’t fielded a highly successful basketball team in decades. But, their win on home court in the CISAA Division 2 finals Mar. 2 marks a new era for the squad, who are poised to move into Division 1 hoops next year.

“These guys have bought into hard work, they’re very unselfish and they respect each other,” said Sean Loucks, the Knights’ head coach. “They’ve played above themselves.”

The finals game against Appleby College, a 62–50 win, had its nervous moments. Mounting a double-digit lead early on, the Knights saw Appleby get back in the game, using their guard play to create plays off the dribble.

“They started putting all guards on the floor, which made it really tough for matchups,” said Emmett Barker, one of two Knights to return to the squad from last season. “We tried to stay together, tried to play tough defense the whole game. It’s just unreal to win it.

“I know for myself, I started feeling [nervous] when we got a 20-point lead at one point, and that fell down to 10. I just reminded myself to stay strong with the ball, go to the basket, do the basic stuff.”

The Knights remained fundamentally sound, creating offense on the pick-and-roll and reducing their mistakes on defense. It is this discipline that Loucks, who has competed in professional basketball in the United Kingdom, has instilled on his young ball club.

[attach]6786[/attach]“It’s a revelation for some kids that you practice everyday when you don’t have a game,” Loucks said. “To be in a gym for two hours everyday, and to play in a 30 to 40-game season is news for some of these guys that have played on other teams and clubs, where it’s ‘here’s your jersey, you go practice twice a week for half an hour.’ This is a real team.”

The discipline has benefitted this team, which features an eclectic group of ballers and athletes.

“I played grade 10, on the basketball team, and I didn’t play that often, and when I played I was really nervous and I wasn’t making my shots and didn’t want to shoot,” said Simeon Vivian, who played for Rosedale Heights before transferring to the Knights.
“Now, I can come off the bench and know that if I’m going to shoot it, it’s got a good chance of going in.”

Sitting in on practice earlier in the week, the Knights were loose, ready to take on their next opponents. Along with Patrick Quaggin-Smith, Ian Johnston was returning to the squad not knowing what to expect of the team.

“Having five starters leave, seven out of the eight rotation players leave last year, I didn’t personally think, obviously I hoped, we’d be here,” said Johnston, the Knights’ starting guard. “It’s just a great group of guys, we’re all friends, none of us have problems with each other on and off the court.”

It is that cohesiveness that has defined the Knights’ pass-friendly offensive identity. It has also driven their tenacity, fuelling many close wins this season.

A double overtime game against De La Salle, a comeback win against Bayview Glen and constant battles at tournaments away from home proved to be teaching moments for the Knights.

“Our hockey team is 13–1 as well,” said Vivian, referring to the CISAA Division 2-B Knights. “It’s just been a really good year.

“Having an undefeated season is awesome, being able to know you can walk onto the floor and know that you’ve got a great team behind you, and no matter who comes off the bench or who’s playing at any given time, you know they’re going to put in work, work as hard as they can.”