Team still ticks
with just 8 players,
3 of them in Grade 10
By Ned Bekavac
Just because their bench is barren, doesn’t necessarily mean their trophy case will be.
The Bishop Macdonell Celtics senior boys basketball team, District 10 champions and OFSAA AA bronze medalists last season, might appear to be a shadow of their former selves these days.
But their play, and their record, tell a different story.
The Celtics have just eight players on this year’s roster. And almost half of them aren’t even seniors – the team includes three Grade 10 ballers.
Yet here they are, in a three-way tie for first with the Ross Royals and the Lourdes Crusaders. All three have 6-1 records after games Tuesday, a day that saw the Celtics bounce back from their lone defeat of the season and beat the previously undefeated Royals 70-64.
“We have a new, young team. I was interested to see how they bounce back (from their first loss). I had an inkling, but they really proved their heart,” said coach Trevor Smith, after the win.
While things are now going tickety-boo, the picture wasn’t so pretty prior to the season.
“There was a time there, early on, where we didn’t even know if we were going to have a senior team,” says Smith.
Contributing to the shortage of basketball bodies is the moving of two Celtics studs to other teams.
Mitchell Wood currently plays for the ACTS Athlete Institute in Orangeville and attends Orangeville high school, and Michael Ganson plays for St. John’s-Kilmarnock in Breslau.
“(They’re) great players that decided they wanted to go to college in the States, or university,” said Smith. “So they went to teams where they could get more exposure.”
Celtics’ star Jesse Kendall, who hit for 19 points in Tuesday’s win, said the look of things ahead of the season wasn’t all that fun, but they sure have come around.
“It was a little frustrating at first,” said Kendall, a Grade 12-plus student who is looking to play CIS ball next year. “But I knew all the guys had heart. We’re all pretty close.”
At initial tryouts, a junior crew showed up and, with them included, there were only about 11 potential players there, says Smith. Some have stepped away, leaving a team of eight.
Smith gives all the kudos to the players.
“These guys have the passion. They come together and they made it happen,” he said.
“We’re a hard working group, and we work well together for sure,” said Kendall.
Smith said having a thin roster can be a good thing, as it’s easier to get everybody some playing time.
That said, eight isn’t great for practice.
“It’s hard for practice. We’re trying to work an offence, and myself, slow as molasses, and coach (Andy) Chaput are out there (playing). We try to fit in . . .” Smith says.
He’s asked if junior Celtics coach Dennis Morris was cool with three of his stars moving up to the senior ranks. He jokes that he had to smooth things over with Morris.
“There were some beverages bought,” Smith laughs.
He then relays a story about Jake Chaput, who is one of the three Grade 10 players on the senior team, along with Evan Hosker and Chris Poloniato.
Jake was upset after one of their games, feeling he didn’t play well.
Smith says: “Basically the speech is: ‘You had a tough game against guys who are three years older than you. But if you want to play junior, you can, and drop 40 (points) a night. But how are you getting better?’”
The three Grade 10s are looking to play ball beyond high school, so this season will be massive for them.
“To hold them back, sure the (junior) team would be successful, but in the long run, these guys have aspirations to play OUA and stuff. And this year is going to be huge for them and their development. (Morris) was all for it.”
Kendall says that despite the age range, the team jells well.
“It’s five years (for me). Some of these guys are just in their second year. But it’s a great dynamic.”
• Jesse Kendall (Grade 12+)
• Owen Brombal (12+)
• Eric Forster (12+)
• Adam MacEachern (12)
• Lukas Wood (11)
• Jake Chaput (10)
• Evan Hosker (10)
• Chris Poloniato (10)