It’s hard to talk about OFSAA for Oakwood’s senior boys hoopsters.
Not because they won the AAAA provincial championship but because victory hasn’t sunk in yet, said Barons guard Julian Clarke.
“Everybody I see is still finding it hard to believe,” he said. “I know for me, I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of the year. It’s unreal.”
Head coach Anthony Miller validated the state of shock at the Dufferin Street and St. Clair Avenue area school.
“We’ve won a lot of tournaments this year and I knew the kids knew they could win (OFSAA),” he said. “You never picture yourself winning the provincial championships until you actually do it.”
Their flight path to glory was far from flawless though, as the team lost in the City Finals against Eastern Commerce Saints 64-61.
Forced to play a backdoor game to qualify for AAAA, the team rebounded against Emery Eagles Feb. 26, winning 56-44.
From there it was win after win, hammering St. Matthew High School from Orleans 79-48; downing Pickering 52-44; denying Ajax’s J. Clarke Richardson 75-72; defeating Scarborough’s Blessed Mother Teresa 65-60 and claiming gold against Hamilton high school, St. Thomas More, 47-34.
Clarke attributed their City Finals loss to Eastern two key injuries: Sheldon Moore and Kevin Blake. Once they were back in the lineup, it was all clear on the horizon.
“You always want to have all your kids there in the most meaningful time of the season and I thought we were the most consistent team all year,” Miller said.
The Barons were not without criticism from opposing teams during the season, Clarke said.
“Beginning of the year people didn’t know how good we were going to be … people started griping ‘Oh Oakwood hasn’t played this team, Oakwood hasn’t played that team’,” he said. “Then we lost to (St. Edmund) Campion and everyone was like, ‘See they’re not that great’.
“From there our goal was to show everybody that we could get back to the top.”
Regardless of the smacktalk, coach Anthony Miller was enthused with the effort the Blue and Gold put forth, especially Clarke who led a fourth quarter comeback against St. Thomas More, draining 17 of his 20 points in the last five minutes.
“It was kind of one of those surreal moments just watching him score three-pointer after three-pointer with hands in his face,” Miller said. “He was pretty clutch throughout the whole tournament.”
Being best in Ontario is the swish from a three-pointer for the graduating Clarke.
“We’re not going to ever play together as a team, so this is the best ending,” he said.
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