73rd annual basketball tournament began with contest between Nighthawks, Jaguars
Dave Dawson/The Packet & Times Orillia Secondary School’s Owen McRoberts, who poured in a team-high 14 points, prepares to drive the paint during heated second-quarter action Friday in the opening contest of the 73rd annual Orillia Blackball Classic. OSS lost 50-45 to St. Joseph’s in the junior boys’ contest. Action culminates Saturday night with championship games in both junior and senior divisions.
Canada’s longest continuously running high-school basketball tournament debuted at a new venue Friday, when action tipped off in the gleaming, new gym of Orillia Secondary School (OSS), which opened last year.
The 73rd annual Orillia Blackball Classic officially started when the host Nighthawks clashed with the St. Joseph’s Jaguars in junior boys’ action at the Park Street school. In what was an intense back-and-forth game that saw the lead change hands several times, the Jaguars hung on for a thrilling 50-45 decision.
While it was not the start OSS had hoped for, the Nighthawks had many chances to snatch victory from defeat, but missed some critical shots and made some costly turnovers – especially late in the contest – that proved their undoing in a game that could have gone either way.
Owen McRoberts led the way for OSS with 14 points, while John James chipped in with eight and was a force under the net.
OSS and St. Joseph’s are two of eight teams in the junior division. Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School and Twin Lakes Secondary School also have teams battling for the coveted 8-ball trophy.
Things went better for OSS’s senior boys’ team. The talented and quick Nighthawks easily defeated Almaguin Highlands Secondary School (South River) 63-35 in their tournament-opening game Friday. Twin Lakes also got off to a fast start in senior boys’ action, defeating I.E. Weldon Secondary School (Lindsay) 52-33 at the Thunderdome.
In all, 16 teams will battle for the Blackball crown in the senior boys’ draw. OSS has two teams in the division, while Twin Lakes and Patrick Fogarty also have squads that will battle for supremacy.
The gold-medal game for junior boys will start at 6 p.m. Saturday at OSS. The title game for the senior boys’ division will begin at 8 p.m. at OSS.
“We’d love to see the bleachers packed and to see the community support these athletes and this tournament,” said Twin Lakes teacher Sarah Hagman, one of the event’s organizers. “It’s great basketball and admission is free.”
For real-time results and updates, follow @BlackballBBall on Twitter.