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Centennial Colts Classic Standouts(2011)



The 2011 version of the Centennial Colts Classic will go down as an exciting tournament that boasted many of the Greater Toronto Area teams sprinkled with a couple Province of Quebec teams. With more than a dozen NCAA coaches and about a half dozen Canadian post secondary school coaches taking in the action throughout the weekend of October 28 and 29, 2011, both the Championship and Consolation titles went down to the wire in close finishes.

The Consolation Semi-Final round saw the Aurora Eagles defeat the Korah Colts 42-41 and the Campion Bears defeat the Pope John Paul (Scarborough) Panthers (Jr) 29-24. Campion later went on to beat Aurora by three, 47-44 for the Consolation title.

On the Championship side, the Notre Dame (Ajax) Cougars avenged a SBA tournament Finals loss earlier in the month to the Eastern Commerce Saints, with a 60-45 win. Pickering ensured a rematch of the 2010 Colts Classic Final by beating Downsview 39-29. The Championship Final saw Notre Dame (Ajax) defend their Centennial Colts Championship by beating district rivals Pickering by a 41-39 final score.

Individual awards: Dakota Whyte (Notre Dame (Ajax); Tourney MVP); Shanica Baker (Notre Dame (Ajax); Tourney All-Star); Taijah Campbell (Pickering; Tourney All-Star); Cheyenne Creighton (Pickering; Tourney All-Star); Cassandra Nofuente (Downsview; Tourney All-Star) Sade Iriah (Campion; Tourney All-Star)

And now for a breakdown of some of the tournament’s standouts:

Taijah Campbell (6’2″, F, Pickering, 2012)
Campbell barely had the chance for the ink from her passport stamps to dry before getting right back on the court again, this time with Pickering, looking to avenge last year’s 3-point Finals defeat. Having just come back earlier in the week from her stint at the Pan Am games in Guadalajara, Mexico, playing for a relatively young Team Canada squad that placed 6th, it would have been understandable if she sat this tournament out. However, she decided to play, and she showed no signs of fatigue by running the floor extremely well for a player of her length. Also on display this weekend was her shot that came with nice looking form and good instincts in anticipating rebounds.

Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau (6’4″, G/F, St Francois, 2015),  Khaleann Caron-Goudreau (6’4″, F, St Francois, 2015)
With these identical twins each looking closer to 6’4″ instead of the 6’2″ they have been listed earlier this year, it indicates to me that these girls may have some growing left to do. Regardless of what height they may actually be, they were a daunting presence during their games with Audrey-Ann doing a fair bit of ball handling in playing from the two or three position, and Khaleann seeming to prefer to play with the ball facing the basket while playing either the three or four spots. Both sisters run the floor well and seem to really comfortable on the floor as increased co-ordination is leading to increased fluidity and timing of their moves, which I am sure put a smile on the face of the Texas coach on hand to watch them play. These Texas commits both seem to possess high arching shots making it extremely difficult to defend when considering their height. In highlighting some of their individual strengths, I found that during this tournament, Khaleann was more likely of the two to get in the paint and mix it up. With her I even saw glimpses of post moves in her repertoire and a good eye for rebounding. I would say that Audrey-Ann demonstrated that she is the stronger of the two passing-wise as I found that she saw the floor well and made use of her driving abilities to create opportunities for her teammates. That being said, she certainly didn’t shy away from taking advantage of opportunities to drive when the chance was there.

Cheyenne Creighton (6’1″, Pickering, 2014)
Creighton played the role of a basket facing Power Forward quite often this weekend as part of the enormous Pickering frontcourt and did a really good job. Even with more than two years remaining in high school she already has a lot of the size that will help her succeed at the next level and many of the tools that will allow her to do so. She routinely knocked down 5-10 foot shots when given space and even a couple over smaller defenders as she got decent elevation from her jumps and good trajectory in her release. She drives the ball well also and found success in doing so. Creighton was the type of player that kept her emotions in check which allowed her to stay focused whether making smart decisions with the ball on offense or staying in tuned with where rebounds would be heading to off the boards.

Sade Iriah (6’0″, F, Campion, 2012)
Iriah played a very good tournament. She showed as one of the strongest girls this weekend on the force of the way she established positioning in the paint, and by the way that she countlessly ripped rebounds away from opponents. Boxing out opposing forwards was very much a part of her routine as it was done consistently and effectively leading to good results, whether on offense or defense. She showed a soft touch when she had the ball around the basket and was a handful to defend by the teams she faced. I noticed that she worked very well with Guard Shay Colley, who is now back in the Campion lineup, working several pick and rolls and making the most of the many of Colley’s entry passes.

Dakota Whyte (5’8″, G, Notre Dame (Ajax), 2012)
Whyte put her team on her back this weekend and was the catalyst behind their Championship. Her ball handling skills were on full display and were taken aggressively to the hole repeatedly. She made those drives to the basket forcing defenders to be quick on their feet and try to avoid her dropped shoulder that was used to both protect the ball and to draw fouls from defenders that were not able to move their feet quick enough to match Whyte’s speed. Also in her arsenal was her drive then step back move while keeping her dribble alive. Because of her speed, that move had to be respected, and because of the separation, it added the ability take inventory of the next plan of attack as well as the additional time in order to do so.

Michele Tchiakoua (G, St Laurent, 2016)
Tchiakoua played the role of energetic Point Guard that did a very good job of distributing the ball. Despite logging heavy minutes throughout the weekend, she did a good job of pushing the tempo of the ball and looked comfortable in completing fast breaks even with applied pressure. In half court sets, she took advantage of screens set for her by her team mates, with tight curls setting herself up for high percentage looks at the basket. Add to that, Tchiakoua made wise decisions with the ball, by not forcing plays and keeping her turnovers to a minimum and it becomes all the more clearer as to why her coach afforded her the ability to log as many minutes as she did, on a very deep St Laurent team.

Eternati Willock (6’2″, F, Pope John Paul (Scarborough), 2015)
On the surface, having a Junior team invited to a tournament as deep as this one may be viewed an error, but make no mistake about it, the Pope John Paul (Scarborough) Juniors are no joke. Anchoring that squad is a thin build, Grade 9 Forward in Eternati Willock. She garnered a lot of buzz around the gym with how advanced her skill set is for her age and how well she was able to compete against some of the very good Ontario high school competition. Willock came across as an extremely intense competitor that sacrificed her body on several occasions and wasn’t afraid to call out teammates that may not be playing up to their potential. On defense, when she wasn’t running down rebounds or continue to be diligent in boxing out stronger opponents, she used her extended reach to surprise quite a few shot takers and accumulate a lot of blocks throughout the two days. Willock’s potential continues to demonstrate why the list of interested Universities won’t shrink anytime soon.

Teanna Edman Rowe (5’5″, G, Eastern Commerce, 2012)
The bread and butter of Rowe’s play continues to be her using good speed, ball handling and hustle. While this Point Guard ran the offense during this Colts Classic, she used good instincts to push the ball at opportune times making the best of her Shooting Guard that liked the ball while slashing through and by finding her Wing that liked the ball from her set position on the perimeter. Her understanding of these needs, along with good decision making, were some of the ways that she made contributions to the success her Eastern Commerce Saints had.

Honorable Mention

Khara Keane (5’7″, G, St Joseph’s (Toronto), 2015)
Being able to handle the pressure that is brought on by the Eastern Commerce Saints is by no means an easy task. Keane proved that she could take on that pressure by being able to make quick decisions based on what little was available at that time. Turnovers were kept to a minimum as she handled the ball well while avoiding some strong defending.

Shay Colley (5’9″, G, Campion, 2014)
Warmest of welcome backs to Shay Colley! She was certainly a sight for sore eyes after being away from action for around a year, having now recovered a torn ACL. In speaking with her, it had been a mentally tough journey for her both in her recovery and in her having to be sidelined from the game for such a long period of time. Seeing a bit of what she has been through over the past while, and knowing the extremely high ceiling she has from watching her in the past, it is obvious her fitness is off what it used to be. But, she showed signs that she still has some of her patented moves such as the well sold crossover and the driving spin move on her way to the basket. Her play and performance certainly bodes well for the return to form of this top 2014 prospect.

Telica Burton (5,2″, G, Downsview, 2014)
This sure handed sharp-shooter is listed as a Guard and is sized like one. But, from my point of view, she tends to play the position of an undersized wing by the way she makes her home on the perimeter. Regardless, her 3-point shot accuracy is not to be taken lightly as it is consistently fired with almost textbook form and follow through resulting in a very respectable completion rate. Burton is relied upon by the Mustangs to stretch the defense and is equipped with a faily quick release.  She showed that she was able to make a quick judgement calls more than once by incorporating a pump fake and side step to avoid the momentum of a leaping defender attempting to block her shot.

Dominique Maxwell (G, St Joseph’s (Toronto), 2014)
Maxwell is a Forward that found success in controlling the ball and being a part of numerous fast breaks. She completed many of those fast breaks displaying good speed and being creative and doing so, despite the pressure she frequently found herself up against. She is a strong player that showed off her strength when establishing position away from the ball and ripping away rebounds she secured.

Showing Continuing Improvement
Tayla Gibb (6’2″, F/C, Eastern Commerce, 2012)
Gibb continues to show improvement in the role she plays on this team since I first saw her earlier this school year. Obviously a byproduct of making the most of practice time, in this tournament she came across as confident in her positioning on the floor and the role she needed to play. With that found esteem, she was able to make good contributions to the Saints’ offense from her high post/foul line positioning. On defense she recorded a couple of blocks and kept players in front of her. Better lateral movement on defense and closing the gap between her and the player with the ball that she is defending, would continue to raise her potential for being her team’s X factor.

Becky Nash (6’4″, C, Pickering, 2012)
This tournament showed the result of steady improvement to Nash’s game. Yes, there are portions of her game that I would certainly like to see at a higher level such as her intensity, a more consistent jumper and her taking care of the ball, but I found that she ran the floor well and continues to make gains in the way she cleans up around the basket to fit into her coach’s game plan. Her size and continued improvement since the beginning of the year should make her continue to be worthy of looks from post secondary schools north of the border.