Next on the chopping block is the player that literally blocks all the chops--well, in this case, lays the smackdown on all those who attempt to make that layup. I'm sure when you read that sentence, a specific player came to mind. There are iconic moments in high school basketball that as a fan, player, or coach, you'll remember forever.
One of those moments unfolded this past season at the Fraser Valley's when your 2019 Top Defender made a monstrous block against Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers' Josh Hamulas (and Austin Swedish, come to think of it) in the semi finals. That block was felt around the Langley Events Centre and catapulted this player's team to the FV title game. Where, for the first time in program history, the Holy Cross Crusaders were crowned the kings of their region.
The Crusaders boasted a defensive squad unlike anything we've seen in our time at The Hub. In fact, two players on Holy Cross' roster come to mind when we debated which one ranks supreme. But only one can claim the top spot.
And if you were present at the FV's, you know exactly who that fella is...
Uyi Ologhola is that dude.
He's got defender written all over him. Big facts, though: not only can my man defend literally a tanker (if they allowed such vehicles on the court, that is), he can put up an insane amount of points, too. Don't believe me? Uyi scored 32 in that Fraser Valley title game against the Terry Fox Ravens and was also named the tournament MVP.
Some go as far to say that Uyi's hands are the best in BC. He's earned the nickname "Clamps" for obvious reasons. And aside from his sheer defensive skills and athletic capabilities as an all-round, insanely good player, Uyi is humble AF--a quality that, at times, is hard to come by.
I've interviewed Uyi on multiple occasions and he's one of the sweetest souls that high school sports has to offer. No doubt he'll do big things for the Crusaders next year, as well, since he's got another year at Holy Cross left in him.
Enough of my praise. Here's what y'all had to say about this season's Top Defender, Uyi Ologhola:
"NEXT KAWHI LEONARD."
"Overall best athleticism allows him to block shots like a tall post defender, while still being fast enough to lock up the perimeter."
And my personal favourite:
"He'll put anyone in prison."
Alright, let's count down the rest of those top dawg defenders, starting with the runner-up.
# 2 - Michael Risi, Holy Cross Crusaders
To be honest, it was a huge toss up (in my opinion) between Risi and Uyi. The two are the defensive dynamic duo, for real. Risi plays hard and with a lot of passion. Pair that with his speed and ability to lock up one the best players in the province (aka, he held Diego Maffia to just 7 points at the 2019 Legal Beagle finals), there's no arguing that Risi deserves the silver spot on this list. He's also a smart player, which shows when you watch how he positions himself around his check. Risi isn't afraid to carry the team when need be, either. He's a true basketball gem.
"He’s got the defensive badge. Will out hustle anyone on the other team and stop you from scoring."
# 3 - Suraj Gahir, North Delta Huskies
Full disclosure: I didn't cover many of North Delta's games this past season. However, from what I've heard and seen, Gahir can literally do it all. His name probably came up in every single one of our Top 5 categories. So that right there is a clear indication that this kid can ball out. On the defensive side of things, he's tenacious with incredible length to guard a big. Yet, also has the speed and agility to guard smaller dudes, too. He's a versatile D monster, if you will.
"Lock down Swiss Army Knife."
# 4 - Sasha Vujisic, Burnaby South Rebels
One of the most heartbreaking moments of the BC provincial tournament had to be when Vujisic suffered what looked like an ankle injury during their Elite Eight matchup against the Centennial Centaurs. Prior to the fall, though, Vujisic smacked down nearly every ball to help the Burnaby South Rebels advance to the semifinals. Losing a guy like Vujisic from your line-up definitely takes a toll on the team. His defensive skills were unparalleled this past season and may have even led the Rebels to back-to-back championships had he been healthy enough. He's a defensive game-changer, for sure.
"Can’t get past him baby! You sneak around him, he’ll swat that ball right off the backboard, try it, you won’t!"
# 5 - Hunter Simson, Kelowna Owls
Swoopin' in at our last spot on the Top 5 is the ever-so-aggresive (yet surprisingly sweet) Owl, Hunter Simson. Simson played a crucial role this year as one of Kelowna's star players who again, can literally do it all. His name made an appearance on nearly all of our lists, which goes to show that Simson truly defines what it means to be a consistent athlete. While he was a wrecking ball against his opponents offensive stars, he also knows his way around the paint and compliments the Owls' offence well, too. And most importantly, he plays with extreme heart in every single game.
"No one wants to play this guy."
Check the pie chart for a little 'slice' of the percentages:
That's all on the defensive end, folks! Next up: Top Playmaker.
Written by: Crystal Scuor