Perimeter teams who live by shooting the ball well from distance can languish when that shooting turns cold - unless they can compensate defensively, as was the case for the Sudbury U15 Jam boys, who captured bronze at the 2022 Ontario Cup Championships in Sault Ste Marie.
"I was very proud of the boys this weekend because our outside shooting really went cold, but our defensive work and effort on the boards is what made our weekend so successful," noted head coach Tony Church.
Playing the top-seeded South Toronto Golden Eagles right out of the gate, the Jam gained some critical confidence, posting a 71-52 win in their Division #3 opener, despite not shooting the ball particularly well.
Keelan Donnelly (26 pts) and Hunter Laplante (21) paced the Sudbury offense, while Shiloh Sauvé was a monster in the paint, grabbing every loose ball and rebound that came near him.
Facing a more athletic and taller Ottawa Next Level crew to close out pool play, the Jam enjoyed their best defensive outing of the weekend, limiting their opponents to a single fourth quarter point as part of a 52-36 victory.
The scoring parade would see Keelan Donnelly (16) joined by William Church (11) in the double digit bracket, with the latter doing his best Kyle Lowry impression in the tournament, drawing at least one charge each and every game.
The off-the-bench energy of Tyler Young and Greyson Seifert was infectious as Sudbury prepared to face the Burlington Force in their Sunday morning semi-final.
With the defense not quite as air-tight as their previous two games, the Jam's improved offensive production went for naught as Burlington bounced the locals 68-62, despite some solid numbers on the attack from both Laplante (21) and Donnelly (18).
Forced to battle Ottawa a second time with bronze medals on the line, the northern lads received key contributions from their entire roster as the likes of Sebastien Montgomery, Alexandre Mailloux, Brayden Legendre and Nathan Borieo chipped in at both ends of the court, leading to a 51-43 triumph for coach Church, assistant coach Jamie Lamontagne and company.
Donnelly bumped his weekend scoring output to 77 points, recording another 17 in game four with William Church not too far off that pace with 13 of his own.