CANADA TOPFLIGHT ACADEMY EARNS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN MISSISSAUGA
Canada Topflight Academy (CTA) operating out of Notre Dame Catholic School in Ottawa descended onto University of Mississauga last weekend to compete in the inaugural National Preparatory Association (NPA) league tournament.
The NPA hosts 9 teams from across Canada which include: CTA (Ottawa), London Basketball Academy (LBA), Rothesay Netherwoods (NB), Notre Dame (SK), Christian Academy (BC), St. Michaels, GTA Prep, Central Tech, Toronto Basketball Academy (TBA) all from the Greater Toronto Area.
CTA had come into the event with a 10-5 record securing them a 3rd seed behind both Central Tech (1st) and TBA (2nd). The program from Ottawa was riding a 10 game winning streak after starting the season 0-5 and hoped to build on the momentum. It would definitely be difficult as their opening round had them facing the AAA OFSSAA champion and 6th seeded St. Mikes Blue Raiders. The Blue Raiders boasted one of the top players in Canada Danilo Djuricic who not only has committed to Harvard but also has represented Canada on a global stage at the Cadet level. CTA would feel some early event jitters on offence missing countless lay-ups and free throws but as usual their defensive effort and rebounding kept them in the game. The highlight would definitely be the blanketing defence from 6'7 senior Manel Ayol provided keeping Djuricic to only 3 point in the first half. The second half was all CTA as they ended up cruising to an impressive 82-69 opening round win over the provincial high school champions. Graddy Kanku would lead CTA with 15 points while Lual Akot chipped in with 13.
The first year prep program would advance to the semi-finals against TBA and try to avenge a lopsided 92-74 defeat in their first meeting back in November. It would be a sloppy affair as TBA would carry most of the play including a 49-39 advantage into the final 10 minute frame. CTA would also have to come back without their star post player JD Muila who was lost to an ankle injury. Muila has been a dominant force since December leading CTA in rebounds and points in the paint. The spark would come from Khaleem Sarazin, CTA's leading scorer, his 10 points in the fourth quarter was key as they would overcome a lacklustre three quarters to defeat TBA 69-67 with Sarazin would finish with 15 points while Manel Ayol led the way with 16 points. The semi-final win would earn them a right to play for the NPA National Championship against London Basketball Academy who upset the #1 ranked Central Tech 103-98.
Championship Sunday would surprisingly not include any Toronto programs as it would be two first year programs in #3 CTA from the Nation's Capital and #5 London Basketball Academy. The team from the Capital would definitely be in tough as JD Muila would not be in the line-up for the Championship final.
The University of Toronto - Mississauaga athletic complex was packed in anticipation of crowning NPA's inaugural National Champion. CTA knew they required a total team effort, the whole year different players would step-up and today would be no different. Graddy Kanku, the 6'3 wing would answer the bell in a large way especially in the 1st half scoring in multiple ways finishing with 17 points at the break. Graddy would continue to be the catalyst but several of his CTA teammates would join in to contribute. Kanku would finish with a team high 29 points, Khaleem Sarazin would end up with
24 points and both Aiden Warnholtz and Manel Ayol finished with 22 and 19 points respectively. CTA would officially earn National Champion status and put an incredible cap on a first year season.
Congratulations go out to the Canada Topflight Academy team which includes:
Lual Akot, Agak Lual, Aiden Burns, Ricky Houle, JD Muila, Aiden Warnholtz, Muon Reath, Jackson Bayles, Khaleem Sarazin, Manel Ayol, Graddy Kanku and Nigel Kuma Mintah. Coaches Aaron Blakely, Willy Manigat, Alain Cadieux - Training Staff Devin Cohan, Christa Blackmore, Andy Stewart, Bruce Bonner, John Haime - Operations Trevor Steynor - Founder/Director Tony House.
CTA would also like to thank the Ottawa Catholic School Board (Denise Andre and Tom D'Amico) for believing in the vision and allowing CTA to conduct the program out of Notre Dame Catholic School. This year's success could not have been possible without the support of all the administration and staff at Notre Dame. Specifically, Principal Mike Curry, Head of Guidance Meagan Morris and Kate McGarrity-Fournier from the Achievement Centre all played integral roles in helping to run a Championship program. CTA looks forward to building on this fantastic momentum and will start recruiting for the 2017-18 season immediately.
Final Feature from Northpole Hoops: