Opening day of this year’s OCAA Men’s Basketball Championship saw the west division champion Redeemer Royals advance to the semi-final round after defeating the Lambton Lions 104-89.
Each program came out swinging, trading their respectively blows throughout the opening quarter. The high-scoring affair saw the underdog Lions finish with a 31-30 first quarter lead. The second quarter saw the Royals’ offence begin to struggle, putting up a measly 16 points putting them down 54-46 at the end of the half.
The Royals would find their scoring touch at the beginning of the second half, outscoring the Lions 30-19 to go up 76-65 heading into the final quarter. Redeemer would take care of business in the final frame keeping the Lions at 16 points to ultimately take the quarter-final victory.
“It was a tale of two halves today,” said Royals’ head coach Jamie Girolametto. “We couldn’t get settled in the first half, giving up easy baskets and missing open assignments. In the second half, we changed our tempo and started to play full court defense, taking the Lions out of their offensive rhythm.”
Opening day of the OCAA Men’s Basketball Championship had the stands painted Redeemer red as many of their hometown fans traveled to Niagara to watch the game. “We have the best fans in the OCAA,” said Royals’ guard Rayvon Higdon. “I believe having them up there supporting our guys gave us that extra boost in the second half.”
Leading the Royals’ offence was this year’s OCAA Player of the Year 5th year guard Rayvon Higdon. The product of Rochester, New York was an offensive menace in game one of the tournament, dropping a game-high 41 points while contributing 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Other notable offensive performances came from 2nd year guard Foster Brown (Stoney Creek, Ont.) and 3rd year forward Spencer Kerssies (Ancaster, Ont.) contributing 17 and 16 points respectively.
Leading Lambton’s offence was 5th year guard Branden Padgett (Detroit, Michigan), posting a team high 16 points.
The players of the match for game 1 were Redeemer’s Rayvon Higdon and Lambton’s Branden Padgett.
In Day 2 of the tournament, the Royals advance to the semi-final round where they will face the winner of the quarter-final matchup between the George Brown Huskies and the Humber Hawks. Lambton drops to the consolation semi-final round and will play the loser of the game between Humber and George Brown.