Pure athleticism and skill.
That was exactly what fans were treated to on Saturday night as the Father Henry Carr Crusaders and Mother Teresa Titans battled in the championship game at the high school senior boys Guy Vetrie Invitational Basketball Tournament.
Both teams entered the final as two of the top ranked teams in Ontario and Canada.
When the tournament began, the skill each team possessed became quickly evident and both established the fact that an eventual tournament champion would need to run through both of these squads.
In the end, Father Henry Carr made the plays it needed in the final minutes to gain a 65-64 win over their cross-town rival from Mother Teresa to claim the Tom Tipton championship trophy.
From the opening tip, the teams battled and entertained the crowd with a tremendous display of athleticism.
While the lead changed hands several times, neither team could manage to build a substantial lead of any kind. It became evident from the early moments of the contest that the championship would be decided in the final minute.
Mother Teresa, from Scarborough, held a 13-12 lead after a quarter while Father Henry Carr, from Etobicoke, took a 32-31 lead into the half and a 46-44 advantage after the third quarter when the Crusaders' Kimarly Daley hit a deep three pointer at the buzzer.
The teams traded points again early in the fourth quarter to set the stage for an exciting finish.
Henry Carr held a 58-57 lead when Mother Teresa retook the lead as Jadwey Hemmings converted the third attempt under the basket with two minutes remaining.
Back up the floor, the Crusaders took a 61-59 lead on a three point shot from Lamar Robinson. After Papa Oppong tied the game with a pair of free throws, Henry Carr converted two quick baskets to grab what would be a commanding lead in such a tight game with 55 seconds remaining.
Mother Teresa had opportunities to score the winning buckets but couldn't convert after Dave Mills pulled the team to within one at 65-54 with 25.1 seconds remaining.
"Our free throw shooting definitely hurt us," said Mother Teresa head coach Richard Gallacher, whose team went 17 for 32 from the line. "They do a great job on defense of rotating down so our passes weren't hitting our shooters in the chest. I thought Lamar Robinson was big for them in the fourth quarter with a couple big threes and I think that Kerchel Carter makes excellent decisions at the point. Henry Carr played well and they deserved to win."
Robinson led the winners with 21 points while Kerchel Carter added 18 and Daley 14. Hemmings led Mother Teresa with 17 points with Oppong draining 15 and Jumol Mullings adding 11.
"Our team has so many weapons that eventually someone is going to get hot whether its Lamar Robinson or Kerchel Carter or Kimarly Daley. At least one of those guys is going to get hot or a guy like Eddie Agyeman or somebody else. Whoever is hot is who we are going to give the ball to," said Father Henry Carr head coach Paul Melnik.
"Our real strength besides our pressure defense is our transition game. If we can get three and two man breaks, we are in business. Right now, we're with the top team in the province in transition. We still make our mistakes but at the beginning of the year we didn't have that, now we can make teams pay."
For his efforts, Mother Teresa's Hemmings was named the tournament most valuable player and presented with the John Marasco trophy.
Back home in the Toronto District Colleges Athletic Association, the rivalry between Father Henry Carr and Mother Teresa is huge.
"The rivalry between us is big. There is three teams in our league -- us, them and another -- and anytime we play each other it is always like this. I don't think there has been a game in the last three years that has been decided by less than five points," said Gallacher.
"They are in the east and we are in the west end and all the kids know each other," said Melnik. "They play on club teams with each other and against each other and there are a lot of personal rivalries.
In the bronze medal game, Brady Boland scored 18 points to lead Sudbury Lasalle past Sarnia Northern, which elected to give ample of playing time to their reserves, 71-35. Joel Layen added 11 points for the winners while Alex Boyko led Sarnia with nine points.
In the consolation final, Austin Kent scored 19 points and Mike Beharriell added 18 to pace Sir James Dunn past Korah. Christian Johnson led the Colts with 22 points while Jourdin Morin added 14.
Following the championship game, the tournament committee announced first and second team all-stars.
Included on the first team is Bawating's D.J. Wright, Lasalle's Brady Boland, Sarnia's Cole Webster, Father Henry Carr's Kimarly Daley and Mother Teresa's Jumol Mullings.
Second team selections included Sarnia's Cam Gordon, Sudbury Lo-Ellen's Jean-Marc Bennett, Timmins' Francis Massicotte, Henry Carr's Kerchel Carter and Mother Teresa's Papa Oppong.