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Thursday, May 23, 2024
Sports: Rangers men’s U19 basketball team captures championship
Coach Jonathon Thorpe of NOTL poses with members of the Niagara Rangers men's U19 basketball team after their win. SUPPLIED

They lost their first league game on Saturday, but a clutch performance in their final regular season game helped the Niagara Rangers U19 men’s basketball team come out on top as division champions.

As a result, “we win Pool C of the Ontario Basketball Association, which makes us the number 15 team in the province out of the 49 teams playing in the league,” said coach Jonathon Thorpe of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Age groups are divided into pools based on each team’s ranking and record.

Niagara started in Pool D and after going 6-0, the Rangers were moved into the C group.

After beating Eurostep of Etobicoke on Sunday evening in their division final, theY’ll compete in the Ontario championships June 2 to 4 in York Region.

Last Saturday in Belleville, after beating Woodstock’s Oxford Attack 87-69 in their first game, the Rangers faced a tough opponent in the South Simcoe Sonics, losing 75-69. Niagara had come out on top in two earlier meetings.

“It was our third time playing these guys and it is really difficult to beat a team three times when you are evenly matched,” said Thorpe.

“The guys played well, but our shots just were not falling like they would normally,” he said.

“We still put up a lot of points but we left a lot of points on the court with misses that we don’t normally have.”

Chad Thorpe led the team with 23 points and Dylan Durlov added 16. The same duo led the team in the Oxford game: Durlov had 18 points and Thorpe 15.

On Sunday morning, Niagara edged the Kingston Impact 69-63.

NOTL’s Luke Midgley had 16 points and Ben Johnson contributed 10.

“In this game we got out to a large lead and put it on cruise control a little in the second half, which let them back into the game a bit,” Coach Thorpe said.

“But the result was never really in jeopardy. They hit a couple of threes in the last 30 seconds” to make the final look closer than it was, he said.

“We were able to sit some of our starters for long stretches in the second half,” which was important for the final game of the weekend, he noted.
That afternoon match against Eurostep from Etobicoke would determine first place in their pool.

“They outsized us significantly but it was a really gritty defensive effort,” said Thorpe as Niagara won 76-67.

“Our full-court press and half-court defence were really solid and offensively it was as even as an attack as we have had all season,” he said.

Scoring was spread around as Kai Schatz, Chad Thorpe and Durlov each knocked down 17 points in the victory.

The Niagara team is among the top squads in Ontario, “but we have also beaten a team that finished second in the pool above us, which would be the number 9 team in the province,” the coach said.

“So, it has been a good season to say the least.”

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