The 55th Annual Purple and White senior boys high school basketball tournament held at Western University was almost like the
point guard that had all the skills, but was just missing a jump shot.
The eight-team tourney was definitely exciting at times, but the list of squads had to be cut down in half due to the ongoing labour dispute between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) and the Province of Ontario.
If some more local schools and even a few of the top-province teams like Eastern Commerce and Oakwood, both from Toronto, could have been added to the field, the annual event would have been complete.
“It’s unfortunate it turned out this way, but we were really pleased with the tournament and we’re happy with what we got,” said Western men’s basketball coach Brad Campbell after Oakville’s Holy Trinity Titans took home the competition’s crown after beating Sarnia’s St. Christopher Cyclones 59-46 in the final Saturday (Dec. 29). “It’s a big recruiting tool for us as well. We get people playing at our campus and in our gyms and identifying not only recruits for this year, but for next year or the year after.”
While the public school stoppage might hurt the recruitment stock of some players, it puts others in the spotlight and tournament MVP Nolan MacKenzie has been showing off his skills all season with his Titans squad winning their third consecutive competition.
“We have more of a chance to expose ourselves now that the field of recruiting got a bit smaller with all the public schools not playing anymore,” MacKenzie said, having his name on almost every Ontario university’s point guard list of hopeful enrollment. “I know lots of guys from public school team’s and that’s just terrible that it had to happen and these guys don’t get a chance to play ball. It’s much more competitive when those guys are around.”
The competition decreased and the prospects might have been limited at this year’s edition of Western’s two-day tourney, but the players feeling the absence of the event the most are probably right here at home in London.
“These kids have such an advantage that they get to still play in these events and I really feel for these kids who, especially in their last year, aren’t able to play in events like this, especially local kids,” said John Paul II Jaguars coach Angelo Provenzano, his team losing to Toronto’s Crescent High School in the tournament’s consolation final Saturday. “A lot of things have changed but we’re just trying to make the best of it and I think we’ll be OK.”