By Larry Moko
Diar Alkaldy tossed in 25 points to lead Team Mountain to an 87-79 victory over Team City at the 2018 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic high school all-star basketball game.
Alkaldy, who represented the St. Thomas More Knights, was selected the contest’s Most Valuable Player.
“Personally, I was in this competition last year and didn’t play well,” Alkaldy said after the final buzzer at Cathedral High School Wednesday. “I took it a little too lightly.
“So I had a bit of vengeance coming out tonight. I wanted to have fun, but play well at the same time and win.”
Alkaldy was particularly effective during a two or three minute stretch mid way through the third quarter. That’s when he struck for nine points, initiated two steals and assisted on a bucket.
“Last year I was nervous with all the people watching,” he said. “I was missing my shots. Today, I relaxed and my game came to me.”
Terrance Lennox of St. Jean de Brebeuf and his Braves teammate Daniel Graham sparked the Mountain attack, too, with 13 and 17 points, respectively. Centre Christian Kapongo of the Bishop Ryan Celtics chipped in with 11 points for the winners while Jake Simpson of More had 10.
“I didn’t expect to get a dunk,” Alkaldy said when asked if anything in the game surprised him. “I got one at the end. No one thought I would. That was pretty cool.”
The Mountain squad – consisting of players from More, St. Jean de Brebeuf, Bishop Tonnos and Bishop Ryan – led 19-16, 44-37 and 67-61 at the quarter breaks. City players were selected from Cardinal Newman, Cathedral and St. Mary.
City’s Zanyah Jones (Cathedral Gaels) led all scorers with 28 points. Frank Stipancic of the Cardinal Newman Cardinals netted 11 points, while his CN teammate Nick Rakas tossed in 10.
Nathan Bilamu of Cathedral – winner of the halftime 3-point shooting contest – accounted for nine points during regulation play.
“This was my first time being a part of anything like this for the senior level,” Mountain and Brebeuf coach Jae Dunphy said. “It was great to get a chance to see all these guys in a different light. We practised the other day. They are really nice young gentlemen.”
Dunphy praised the defensive efforts of Brandon Bernardo (Bishop Tonnos) and Graham.
“In a game like this, though, (with limited practice time) you need guys who are shot makers,” he said. “And Diar has been a shot-maker since he started playing. He did whatever he wanted to do out there tonight. He’s got a lot of different facets to his game and he plays with great energy.”
City and Cathedral coach Luca Fortino said it was an enjoyable experience for the fans and the players. “It was a fun game to watch and be part of,” he said. “Playing with different players, they got to showcase their talent and athleticism.”
The all-star game capped an outstanding 2017-18 season for Cathedral. Fortino’s Gaels captured both the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic and Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championships en route to a bronze-medal victory at the OFSAA Triple A tournament. The Gaels topped the powerful St. Michael’s College Blue Raiders to end up third best in the province.
“It was an unbelievable experience this year for our boys,” Fortino said. “It was a great accomplishment.”
According to Dunphy, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league as a whole enjoyed another strong campaign. “From top to bottom, as far as depth of our league, I would put it up there with any league in Ontario,” he said.
Other members of the Mountain side were: Jojo Linguisi and Efosa Omorogbe, More; Cale Calura, Brebeuf; Nick Passaretti, Bishop Tonnos.
The City squad also included Mathieu Kitenge and Tyler Bridgman, Cardinal Newman; Malcolm Maganda, Hezzy Dhuman and Kionte Collins, Cathedral; Nick Hamilton, St. Mary.
Assistant coaches were Paul Taylor and Giuseppe Pontillo for City plus Nathan McCarthy and Nathan Bruzzese for Mountain.