by: Anthony Scalzo
Riverside High School is hosting a provincial tournament for the first time when they welcome the best teams in Ontario for the OFSAA AA championships March 9th. Their senior boys basketball team looks ready to have a good showing winning a tournament they hosted last weekend. The Rebels beat Catholic Central 75-62. .
Riverside beat Villanova 80-59 improving their record to 7-1 in the WECSSAA Tier 1 Division. They are the top team but 2nd place Kennedy (6-0) has two games in hand.
The Rebels have had their eye on big things since this year’s seniors embarked on their high school careers three years ago. “Yes, we’ve been working for this since it all started. We’ve been in a lot of battles like this and we always pull through.” said Aboudi Hijazi
Hosting OFSAA came with extra responsibilities but Rebels coach Aaron Martin embraced the opportunity, “We’re excited it's a big opportunity for our school, you don’t get to host OFSAA in the city often. It's a unique opportunity for our school, for our community so we’re super excited to have it.”
Martin says he and everyone involved want to put on a top-rate event showcasing the east-side of the city. His team has been thrust into more tournaments in order to feel the grind of a championship tournament. “The players have been working really hard to make sure they’re ready, they know they have an opportunity to play at the biggest stage in their own building and they want to make sure they show well.”
In terms of talent, this Rebel team doesn’t lack it, they have experience as well as skillful scorers like Harmon Bindra, Andre Campbell and Aboudi Hijazi. With some seamless shooters like Quinn Carey and Malik Williams. “We knew four years ago when we saw the group of grade nines that we had, good things were in store, that's part of the reason why we put in the bid to host OFSAA this year.” Martin also said they didn’t expect the team to have been this successful this late in the season because of how hard their division is and how many close games they’ve had. But the Rebels coaching staff is overjoyed with the teams play this season.
“Our league is so tough we don’t look past anyone in our schedule. We look ahead to the next game, we scout them, we worry about that game, and we’ll worry about OFSAA when that time comes.”
Following last weekend’s tournament win Hijazi asked Martin if he wanted him to hold the championship plaque during the interview. Coach said “No don’t worry, this isn’t the plaque we want to hold yet,”