Peter Lee, Record staff
Justin Malnerich of St. Benedict is covered by Central Tech's Carl Veltmann.
Two great teams ... a fantastic crowd ... fast-paced action ... several lead changes ... a down-to-the-wire finish --Thursday night's exhibition game between the St. Benedict Saints and Toronto's Central Tech Academy Blues was high school basketball at its best.
The Blues downed the Saints 59-57 in the thrilling contest but the local lads weren't hanging their heads after coming up short.
"We played well, just a couple of mistakes and a couple of turnovers. We're not disappointed with this. We played at a high level and we're getting better every time out," said Saints guard/forward Justin Malnerich.
"I think we're close. We have a couple of things to fix up, but I think we're peaking at the right time."
Central Tech head coach Kevin Jeffers, who led Eastern Commerce to an OFSAA title in 2009, said the Saints are capable of doing well at the provincial showcase if they get there.
Jeffers also explained why his team would agree to play in such a game with seemingly nothing to gain and everything to lose.
"This was a great opportunity for us to come down to this hostile environment and I'm sure it was great for those guys to see our style of play. We are a very aggressive team and they were very composed," he said.
"If we come in here and lose, people can talk about it on Twitter, I don't care, but we can learn from it."
St. Benedict will continue its pursuit of the District 8 championship when the Saints host the St. Mary's Eagles on Monday. The Resurrection Phoenix and St. David Celtics meet in Monday's other semifinal with the winners advancing to Thursday night's final at the highest seed.
The semifinal round of the District 8 senior girls volleyball league has also been set, with St. Benedict visiting Resurrection and St. David hosting St. Mary's. The winners meet Wednesday night.
The quarter-final round of the WCSSAA senior girls volleyball playoffs take place Tuesday, with KCI (9) at Forest Heights (1), Elmira (7) at Jacob Hespeler (2), SJAM (6) at Huron Heights (3), and Cameron Heights (5) at Preston (4). All games are 3:15 p.m. starts.