Once again meeting with the same record and at the top of the OSBA standings, Orangeville Prep and Athlete Institute Prep prepared to face off in another classic OSBA Game of The Week that would highlight some of the very best players the league has to offer. It was the last game of the season for both teams so the outcome of the contest was sure to have a big impact on the teams’ seeding going into the playoffs. The last time both sides met was on December 6th, 2016 where Orangeville Prep was victorious in a very closely contested game.
It was a hot start for Athlete Institute Prep who charged out with an 8-0 run that quickly set the tone of the contest. Their defence was aggressive right from tip-off which led to a lot of forced turnovers and repeatedly prevented Orangeville Prep from even getting the ball to their side of the floor. O'Shae Brissett was an early standout for AI prep and his athleticism allowed him to navigate the floor with ease. Howard Washington Jr. also contributed long range scoring in their early run of scoring. Orangeville Prep, however, did not trail for long as Ignas Brazdeikis and Aaryn Rai worked to close the 10-2 gap. On second chance opportunities, James Karnik was often well positioned under the rim to clean the glass for two points. Orangeville Prep eventually took the lead with their hot streak but AI Prep managed to get back in front and edge out a 20-19 lead to end the first quarter.
Unlike the 1st quarter which was defined by two big runs, the 2nd quarter began as a back and forth battle as neither side gave up much ground. Once the exchange settled, the combination of Ignas Brazdeikis and Aaryn Rai continued to lead the majority of scoring for Orangeville who fought hard to earn themselves their biggest lead of the game at that point. On the other end of the floor, AI Prep looked to Brissett to generate scoring opportunities and he attacked the basket often finishing through tough contact time and time again. Unfortunately, AI Prep was not able to win the rebounding battle that often resulted in leaving them with a single shot per possession. The game continued to be very closely contested and AI prep were only a small run away from reclaiming their lead as Orangeville ended the quarter on top, 40-35.
The high intensity of the first half continued in the 2nd half with both sides not showing any signs of slowing down. Both sides ran up and down the floor in an exhausting track-meet-fashion in which Keshaun Saunders showed off his long range shooting en-route to a 48-35 lead for Orangeville Prep. Not only was their offence catching fire but their lockdown defence was forcing turnovers and causing headaches to the opposition. AI Prep finally got their offence going but could not replicate the consistent stops on the other end. Luckily they had success with their shooting behind the arc that proved crucial to cutting into large parts of the deficit. Conversely, Orangeville continued to dominate the interior through James Karnik who was at the forefront of the scoring effort. He controlled the glass with his height and strength and defenders struggled to contain him even when they had someone between him and the basket.
Although Orangeville lost their double-digit lead, they were still in front 63-56 against their AI Prep rivals going into the 4th quarter. Orangeville looked to keep their lead against this dangerous opponent who was prone to making a run at any time. After taking over at the end of the 3rd quarter, James Karnik continued to dominate his match-ups. He contributed all over the floor through alley-oop slams, blocked shots and even drawing charges as Orangeville's lead grew with every possession. Midway through the frame it seemed like Orangeville finally had a firm hold on the game with a 14-point lead but AI Prep charged right back to within 6 points in the final 2 minutes. Orangeville extended their lead back up to 9 but AI Prep's run was on a roll and their defence was impenetrable. Timely forced turnovers even brought them to within 1 point at 88-89 with less than 20 seconds left. However, Orangeville’s composure and clutch free throw shooting closed out the game with AI Prep losing the matchup 90-94.
With this win not only does Orangeville Prep take sole possession of the top spot in OSBA standings, but they also take bragging rights over their Athlete Institute neighbours after going 2-0 against them on the season. The contest was one of the best this year and the game leaves fans eagerly awaiting the quickly approaching playoffs.