With more than half of the season behind us, teams are looking to solidify their place in the standings and plan for the playoffs. Although Vaughan's hopes at a top-spot have been long gone, they still enter every game with playoff intensity. Orangeville Prep, however, is very much a contender and is only 0.5 games behind the top spot they lost a few weeks ago to their Academy brothers; Athlete Institute Prep.
In the opening quarter jump-shooting was scarce on both sides but that didn’t stop teams from getting physical and scoring in the paint. Vaughan trailed early due to some missed opportunities which Orangeville capitalized off to establish an early 11-point lead. Yet Orangeville's lead of 21-10 was quickly responded to by a 6-point swing charged by the long-range shooting of Vaughan's offence. Although the lead was cut back down to 5-points, Orangeville’s Ignas Brazdeikis' versatile play ignited an 11-0 run for the home team. Orangeville would almost close the quarter with a 16-point lead but a long-range buzzer beater by Vaughan’s James Canlas cut the deficit to 13; 19-32.
Vaughan’s offence struggled early in the 2nd quarter and their inability to contain Orangeville’s key players saw them down by 20 in the first 3 minutes. Brazdeikis along with James Karnik were instrumental in the Orangeville offence as Vaughan lacked the personnel to match their size. Not only did they score inside the paint but with their 3-point scoring also into overdrive, they managed to put an impressive 49 points on the board with over 5 minutes remaining in the half. Vaughan faced their largest deficit of the game and made a 7-2 run but were still unable to contain the Orangeville offence. Their biggest issues until that point were unforced errors but even when they managed to end a possession with a shot, they shot poorly and seldom were able to be the first to the rebound.
The hot streak continued for Orangeville's offence in the 3rd and their marksmen were making shots right from the get-go. Vaughan however, seemed to finally get accustomed to the 3-point line as they tried to better their opponent’s scoring. However, to cut into such a lead would require a stronger defensive presence as matching baskets wouldn’t be enough. To that effect, Vaughan began to skillfully play passing lanes and force costly turnovers of their own. The momentum began to shift in their favour but once again, missed opportunities around the rim gave Orangeville the opening they needed to respond and hold their lead. James Canlas (19 points) did his best in leading the Vaughan offence and William Tran (27 points) contributed valuable buckets but Brazdeikis was still too difficult to contain on the other end, finishing with a game-high 35 points. Once he made his way to the bench however, Vaughan’s transition scoring found new life and what was once a 20-point lead, was cut down to 11 by the end of the quarter.
Although Orangeville saw their lead drastically reduced, they still had a 79-68 lead at the start of the 4th. With the visiting team creeping back into the game, Orangeville looked to Keshaun Saunders (26 points) who delivered a huge scoring punch with 6 consecutive points for his squad including a huge block in transition. Junior Farquhar (17 points) was also instrumental in Orangeville holding onto their lead through his vision and ability to get the ball anywhere on the floor. His scoring was also very well received but Brazdeikis was still the primary scoring option. The final few minutes saw Vaughan try to make a push for the lead but Orangeville controlled the final minutes and saw their 17-point lead through for a 105-88 victory.
Orangeville Prep will be back in action on March 7th as they host Father Henry Carr in one of their final home games of the season (tip-off at 5pm). Vaughan Prep’s loss makes it their 3rd in 3 games but shows they continue to compete until the final buzzer. Vaughan will stay on the road for their next game as they visit Bill Crothers SS on March 3rd, tip-off at 7pm.