Hawks striving for COSSA
By Darren Lum
The Red Hawks senior basketball team expects to not only host the Central Ontario Secondary School Athletics championships, but be one of four teams to play in it.
Its head coach Dave Waito said a COSSA berth is a realistic goal.
“We want to get back to COSSA and we want to win that. We want to win a COSSA championship,” he said. “We’re right in the mix of everybody else ... we should be competitive. There’s no reason not to have that as our goal to be winning COSSA,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking at.”
The knockout tournament will include four A classified schools on Feb. 25, but this date is subject to change. The field of A schools he said is very competitive, as evident last year. Qualification occurs in the open playoff round following the regular season.
Along with the COSSA berth, Waito wants his team to work towards finishing over .500 for the regular season, he adds.
This year’s team promises to be strong, as it is boasting a wealth of veterans that have four and five years of experience with the basketball program. Although last year’s team had more than the nine current rostered players, the Red Hawks have greater experience to draw upon this year.
“We had more guys on the team [last year], but some of them only played senior basketball. They hadn’t played junior. Everybody out here, barring Caleb Turner, has been playing for four years, which is good. We’re going to build on that. We’re going to keep adding on to that knowledge base and go with a whole lot more experience than before,” he said.
With the experience, Waito’s hoping to run the ball more and will have his team work on executing the fast break attack.
A new wrinkle to this season is the addition of the 35-second shot clock, which starts on the inbound and resets only when the ball hits the rim.
“So getting early offence is going to be a little more important than it was before now that we have to work against that shot clock,” he said.
The shot clock is a time limit on offensive ball possession.
It was implemented when the Ontario Federation of Sports Athletic Associations adopted the time limit that is used in college basketball and in the NBA.
Conveniently, the hardware was already installed when the athletic wing of the school was constructed several years ago. Other than some wiring, the gym is ready to accept the necessary timing.
Waito said his leaders for the team are veterans Hunter Smith and Nick Thompson, both with five years of playing experience; McKay Coneybeare, Caleb Schmidt and Jalen Campbell, all with four years, including fifth year player Travis Carroll, who has three years of experience in the program.
The coaching staff includes Gord Cochrane and Mike Rieger, who did help at times last season, but is with the team for this entire season.
Although the league’s schedule has not been released, Waito said the first game is likely to be at the end of the month.