St. Catharines High School Basketball Tournament honours its 60th anniversary with an all-star reunion and an all-time team selection. Photo Credit: Pexels
Sixty years in the making.
The Standard High School Basketball Tournament celebrated its 60th Anniversary this week with the finals set for Friday at the St. Catharines Collegiate.
The basketball on the court is one thing, but the highlight of the week might have been Wednesday evening when the tournament committee hosted a reunion and announced its all-time all-tournament team.
Five coaches and 15 players made up the team including a number still either playing, coaching or giving back to the game in some way.
Tournament co-chair John Pilling said a lot more than just succeeding on the court at the Standard Tournament went into making the selections.
“We did narrow it down to, as a starting point, anybody who was an MVP in the tournament,” said Pilling on the Niagara Sports Report on Newstalk 610 CKTB.
“The other thing that really came into play, not just their performance in the tournament, but what did these individuals do in their post-secondary careers, and also equally important what have they done to give back to the sport of basketball.”
The tournament committee selected the following coaches:
Pat Woodburn was a three-time Standard tournament champion as a coach; played varsity basketball at Laurier, Waterloo and Ottawa; coached at Kernahan Park, Grimsby and 20 years at Governor Simcoe in St. Catharines. He accumulated more than 1,200 wins at the high school and university level.
Woodburn is also a Brock University Sports Hall of Fame inductee.
Kevin McKenna Sr. is a multi-time Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association (SOSSA) champion. McKenna Sr. also won two Standard tournaments as a player and coach.
Maurice Prindiville was a Standard tournament champion coach for three consecutive years from 1978-80, and also coached basketball at Denis Morris and Saint Francis High Schools for 17 years. Prindville won multiple city and SOSSA championships, and an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) bronze medal in 1980-81.
Pat Sullivan is a two-time Standard all-star as player, that played two years at Guelph and three years at Brock University, winning the 1992 national championship. Sullivan coached teams to 19 zone and 17 SOSSA championships, and 10 OFSAA medals. He’s a member of the Denis Morris High School Hall of Fame, and still works with a number of basketball organizations and teams across Niagara.
Larry Miller played on two Standard championship teams in 1964 and 1965, where he was named St. Catharines Collegiate male athlete of the year in 1964-65. He won nine Standard tournament titles as coach, and coached 1,057 high school basketball games and won 744 of them for a .704 winning percentage; coached teams to four SOSSA championships and two OFSAA AAA bronze medals.
Miller, a member of the Standard tournament committee since 1976 where the Larry Miller bursary was established and will be presented for the first time in 2023 on finals night. He was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
As for the players:
Mike Pullar was named Standard tournament Most Valuable Player in 1988. He’s a member of the Denis Morris Hall of Fame, and played one year at York University and three seasons at Brock, winning a national championship with the Badgers in 1992.
Pullar coached at Monsignor Clancy and won an OFSAA A gold medal in 1996, then coached at Saint Michael from 1997-2001 ,Denis Morris from 2002-2012; and coached at Niagara Girls Academy from 2014 to2019 and won Ontario Basketball Association (OBA) gold in 2014 and 2018.
Mike Kemp won Standard tournament MVP in 2002 and was an all-star in 2001. Three-time AAAA SOSSA champion at A.N. Myer in Niagara Falls, two-time OBA Division 1 champion at the club level; played
Kemp went on to excel at Brock University and in his senior year led the country in three pointers made, and won the national championship in 2008 where he was named an all-star and named MVP of the championship game.
Brent Beamer is another Standard tournament MVP – capturing the award in 1992 with Governor Simcoe. He went on to earn a full scholarship at Niagara University where started at small forward; was a Pepsi Marist tournament First Team All-star; and, was named as one of top 100 athletes of the last 100 years in St. Catharines in 2000.
Doug Fast won Standard tournament MVP in 1977, and was an OFSAA champion in 1977-78. He played at Brock where he was a OUA West First Team all-star three times, OUA West MVP in 1984, CIAU All Canadian in 1984, Brock MVP 1982-84 and a two-time Brock male athlete of the year. He’s a member of Brock Basketball and Brock Athletics Hall of Fame; and coached CYO basketball and high school at Governor Simcoe.
Rohan Steen was a two-time Standard tournament MVP while playing at Notre Dame out of Welland. All-Conference Rookie Team at Brock; Canadian Interuniversity Sport and OUA All-star at York in 2006-07, and starting guard on Brock’s national championship team in 2008.
Walt Szpilewski, the Standard tournament MVP in 1965; played one year at St. Francis Xavier and three years at McMaster University where he won an Ontario championship and a national silver medal. He played at Brock while in teacher’s college and won team MVP.
Mike Hurley: Standard tournament MVP in 1993 with E.L. Crossley in Fonthill. Three-time First Team OCAA All-star at Niagara College, and two-year player/captain for Brock Badgers. He was also head coach for the Niagara College Knight’s Men’s team in 2017-18.
Hurley is a Niagara College Knights Hall of Fame member, and is currently vice president of Pelham Panthers Minor Basketball.
Abu Kigab was named Standard tournament MVP in 2013, and is two-time OFSAA medalist, including gold in 2015.
He won a national championship with the Ontario provincial team, and after winning a world championship was named and all-star at the under-19 FIBA World Championships.
He went on to play NCAA Division 1 basketball at both Oregon and Boise State and was All-conference, all-defensive team and conference tournament MVP at Boise State.
Kigab played in the NBA summer league for Toronto Raptors, has played for the Niagara River Lions, and is currently playing professionally in Slovakia where he’s leading his team in scoring and rebounding.
Gerald ‘Skeeter; Mower was two-time Standard tournament champion and MVP in 1980; two-time city and SOSSA champion, and OFSAA bronze medalist in 1980.
Was named University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) rookie of the year, and also the starting point guard at Acadia University for four years where he won two AUAA championships and made three CIAU appearances, including one Final Four appearance.
Pat Pilato Standard tournament MVP in 2011 and 2012, and played five years of senior basketball at St. Francis; played at University of Victoria and won Canada West championship in 2015 and made back-to-back appearances in the National Final Four.
Pilato played his final season of University basketball at Brock U.
Tshing Kasamba was named Standard tournament MVP in 2007. He too was a five-year starter with Saint Francis senior boys and won three OFSAA silver medals. Two-time national champion with Ontario provincial team; two-year starter with NCAA Division 1 Chicago State. Kasamba returned to Brock after an ACL injury and set a record of eight three pointers in a single game. He played professionally in Italy and Spain, and is now working as a trainer and mentor to young players in the GTA.
Art Wiens was a Standard tournament MVP in 1963 and 1964 with Niagara District High School in Virgil.
John Pilling (current co-chair of the tournament) was named Standard tournament MVP 1984 and all-star in1983 at Collegiate.
105 points scored in 1984 is the single season tournament scoring record. Pilling has coached for Niagara Juel, St. Catharines CYO and the Eden Flyers, earning one Ontario club title and making three OFSAA appearances.
Brian Bleich is a two-time Standard tournament MVP in 1986 and 1987 with Governor Simcoe, and provincial and national junior team member from 1985 to 1987. He played in the World Junior Championships in 1987, and earned a full scholarship to Niagara University where he was named freshman of the year. Bleich also played at Brock where he won a national championship in 1992, and was an OUAA all-star, Wilson Cup MVP, Brock MVP and all-Canadian selection in 1993.
Has coached at the college and university levels, and is currently the President of the Pelham Panthers. In 2018 he was lead for Canada Basketball hosting U18 Americas FIBA in Niagara; and also lead role in the Niagara Canada Games basketball in 2022.
Dave Phillip was three-time Standard MVP, winning a championship in 1992-93 with Collegiate. He was recruited by the University of Texas Longhorns before playing university basketball for three years at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia where he averaged 17.5 points per game. Named first-team all-star in 1998-99 and second team the all-star the year previous.
Dan Meagher is three-time Standard tournament champion with Denis Morris and tournament MVP in 1979 and 1980. He’s member of Denis Morris Hall of Fame, and played four years at Duke University. Played for Canada in the 1984 Summer Olympics that finished fourth, and was a sixth-round draft pick of Chicago Bulls in 1985. He was a starting forward for Canada’s 1983 gold medal team at World University Games that defeated a United States team that included Charles Barkley and Karl Malone
He went to play eight seasons of professional basketball in Europe; and is a member of St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame.
Friday’s Consolation Final tips at 5:30 pm, with the Championship Final set to begin at 7:45 pm at the St. Catharines Collegiate.
Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums – Radio, Print and TV – for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he’s worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.
Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.