The Valhalla Vikings juvenile (U17) boys basketball squad has added its name to the growing list of local provincial and national champions.
The club, which is essentially the senior boys squad from Northern Collegiate, topped the Barrie Royals, 55-45 to capture the Ontario Basketball Association Ontario Cup divisional crown in Whitby, Ont.
Seeded eighth in the eight-team bracket, Sarnia reached the final by beating Scarborough, Oakville and Mississauga in preliminary rounds.
The victory over Oakville, the top seed, was by 30 points.
“We really imposed our will in that game,” said coach Chris Jones, noting the team was keen to show it shouldn’t have been ranked the tournament’s lowest seed.
The gold medal followed a silver medal performance at the same event last season, when the team competed in the juvenile division as underage players.
“We kind of knew going in that this team was pretty talented,” said Jones. “We were in four tournaments this year and made the final in every one of them.”
Strong half court defence and sharing the basketball were keys to the championship run, he said.
“We shoot a lot of threes and it looks good when they go in, but when we’re cold our defence keeps up in the game.”
The championship roster was comprised of Zachary Doxilly, Noah Labelle-Voisey, Cameron Dietzel, Blake Butler, Samuel Fairbairn, Luke Daichendt, Greg Bressette, Cayden Gibb, Stephen Smith and Gage Boucher-Oliver.
Off the court, Jones said he expects his team to give back to the community by helping others at every turn.
“No one is going to play professionally,” he said. “So at the end of the day, we want to have some fun and be better people.”
To that end, team members will work as counsellors at the Vikings summer basketball camp in July.