The Gloucester Wolverines U13 boys team made history earlier this month by winning the first Canadian Youth Basketball League (CYBL) championship for the Gloucester-Cumberland Basketball Association.
The CYBL has the word “Canadian” in its name, in actual fact the league is entirely made up of teams from Ontario, and in the past the U13 Division 1 title has been held almost exclusively by teams from the GTA.
|(Back row l to r) Gabriel Kabongo, Joshua Itongwa, Leo Mvuezolo, Yannis Komy, Zaidan Rahman, Ass’t Coach: Asef Rahman. (Front row: Head Coach: Sean Lavictoire, Brandon Bell, James Lavictoire, Pierce Provencher, Reuben Mesfin, Jaymes Moodie, Joseph Mesfin. Missing from the photo is Mael-Isaac Yattara. PHOTO SUPPLIED
All that changed on April 9 when the Wolverines managed to upset The Performance Group (TPG) U13 team based out of Brampton, in the final game of the CYBL playoffs.
TPG had finished the regular season in first place and were the odds-on favourite to win the league championship, but the Wolverines had other plans. After upsetting the number two and number three seeds in the quarterfinals and semi-finals, the Wolverines, who were the eighth and final seed in the playoffs, completely dominated TPG in the gold medal game, winning by a margin of 62-47.
The Wolverines were invited to join the CYBL after placing second in the U12 Ontario Basketball Association provincial championships last season and winning the U12 Eastern Ontario Basketball Association championship with an undefeated record.
The Wolverines have decided play up an age group in the EOBA this year and are more than holding their own with a 7-5 record, good enough for fourth place heading into the post season.
This is Sean Lavictoire’s first year as the head coach after serving as an assistant for the past three years.
According to Lavictoire, the big reason for the team’s success in CYBL playoffs was the decision to give his bigger players more minutes.
“During the regular season, I played everyone equally to give them a chance to develop their game, show what they were capable of and gain confidence. But as we went into the playoffs, it came down to wanting to win the title,” says Lavictoire.
The results speak for themselves. Aside from a nail-biter of an opening game which they won 59-57 on a last second layup by Yannis Komy, the Wolverines dominated the opposition, winning their quarterfinal 51-33 over Grassroots Elite Canada and the semi-final 63-53 over Top Tier East.
“The Canadian Youth Basketball League is arguably the top youth league in Canada as far as the competition goes,” says Lavictoire. “So winning the championship is a huge accomplishment for us and for the Gloucester Wolverines’ program.”