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PECI Panther Sr. basketball Central Ontario Champs heading to OFSAA

Back row: Jaylan Pierson (student manager), Ryan Doolan, Ghaffar Mehmood, Logan Stark, Devon Wilton, Cameron Pero, Ryan Cunningham, Rob Garden (coach) Front row: Ross Maycock, Cooper Rogers, Dyan Morrow, Thomas Davies, Alex Arsenault.

The PECI Senior Boys Basketball team made school history yesterday by repeating as Central Ontario Champions.

Last year, the boys made history by winning the school’s first-ever COSSA title, and they followed it up this season with another OFSAA birth by defeating Nicholson Catholic College 44 – 32 in the championship game played at Norwood District High School.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. We lost a lot of great players from last year’s team, but this group worked hard all season and overcame a lot of adversity to accomplish this goal,” said coach Rob Garden.

In the semi-final game, the Panthers faced off against a scrappy team from Hunstville. In his first game back in six weeks from a broken hand, Alex Arsenault provided a big boost to the team scoring a game-high 25 points in a 57 – 25 win.

“Alex is a difference-maker on our team. When he got hurt, I wasn’t sure how we would respond, but other guys stepped up to fill the void. To get him back, at COSSA, was a big boost and he played really well in his return.”

Accoring to Garden, the boys have struggled to shoot the ball over the past two games, and they went a dismal 1/23 from beyond the arc in this game, but their defense and rebounding were too much for the Red Hawks to handle.

The COSSA final saw two of the top teams for the Bay of Quinte match up against each other with a trip to North Bay on the line. Neither team would give an inch in a defensive battle and NCC was up 18 – 11 at the half.

“Full credit to Nicholson. They are well-coached and have a lot of great players on that team. They came at us with a full-court press and it caught us off guard. To say we struggled in the first half would be a massive understatement, but like we’ve been able to do all season, we just kept fighting,” said coach Garden.

In the second half, the Panthers shifted the momentum with some full-court pressure of their own.

“I don’t have to say very much to these guys anymore. They are leading themselves. At half time, I simply asked them what they wanted to do and our leaders Logan Stark and Devon Wilton changed our strategy. They wanted to get after NCC and change the momentum. As a coach, you want to see your players leading and those guys showed great maturity to rally their teammates.”

The Panthers started to get some life from their aggressive defense and started to score. NCC didn’t have an answer and the boys went on to outscore the Crusaders 33 – 14 in the second half to earn their second straight OFSAA birth. Cooper Rogers and Dylan Morrow provided a defensive spark, while Ghaffar Mehmood came up big on the boards and Ryan Doolan made some clutch free throws to seal the win.

“Our team motto for the past few seasons has been “Rise To The Occasion,” and to see these guys overcome adversity and play for each other was inspiring. I have a feeling the best is yet to come for and we will go to North Bay to compete and see what happens.”

The team needs to fundraise in order to get to OFSAA. If you, your business or your service group is able to make a donation, please contact coach Rob Garden at


Filed Under: Featured ArticlesHastings & Prince Edward District School BoardPECI - It's a Panther ThingSports & Recreation

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  1. Susan says:

    Congrats to these young men! Thx to Rob for his great coaching and bringing these players to play as a team and their personal growth forward! Go Panthers

  2. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Congratulations ! The County is proud of your achievements.
    Good luck at OFSAA

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