After winning both U14 Boys AAA tournaments they had entered, the Orillia Lakers were up for the challenge of playing in the IEM U15 AAA tournament in Newmarket this weekend.
The Lakers, who are used to being bigger and stronger than many of their opponents, were now the little guys, hoping to prove that they belong. The Lakers did just that, finishing second in their pool and narrowly missing an opportunity to advance to their third consecutive tournament final.
The weekend began with a back-and-forth game with Oakville Venom. The Lakers fell just short in a 50-47 loss.
In the next game against the Oxford Attack it looked like the Lakers were in control late, but Oxford made some incredible plays to come back from eight points down in the last three minutes to defeat the Lakers 57-55.
Against IEM Maple it looked like the Lakers were about to suffer their third straight loss before they pulled off a double-digit comeback to force overtime and earn a 60-57 win. Caden McFee had a huge 29-point performance including the late tying bucket in regulation to lead the way.
The final pool game on Sunday was against Ottawa South who was 3-0 in pool play and had won by an average of 17 points per game. The Lakers had a plan to stop both Ottawa’s top shooter and top playmaker. With primary defensive assignments going to William LePage and Nathan Litherland, each giving up several inches and pounds, combined with great team help defence, the Lakers limited those players to only two points combined. The Lakers were able to pull away late for a 52-44 victory.
While second place in the five-team pool was not enough to advance to the playoff round, the team earned valuable experience that should serve them well.
The next game is the biggest of the year as the team has earned a berth in the Hoop City League semi-finals this Sunday in Ajax.
The team would like to thank JL Construction, Oscar’s Variety and Market, 125 Breakfast, Master Lube, The Buck Group and IRP Industrial Rubber for supporting the team and making their season possible.