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Blue Devils punch ticket to provincial basketball championship

A ten point win over an arch rival and a convincing decision in the WOSSAA 'A' final have lifted Mitchell Blue Devils to the provincial championship. 

Blake Redfern drained five three point shots, leading all scorers with 27 points, as Mitchell beat London Christian High 86-52 in the final on Thursday. 

The emphatic win on home court clinched a spot for the Blue Devils at the OFSAA boy's basketball championships, March 4-6 in Welland. 

"We talk all year about attitude, effort and staying present," coach A.J. Moses told StratfordToday. "Not getting too high, not getting too low."

Perhaps no one bought into that philosophy better than Redfern, who was limited offensively, and under the weather, in last week's Huron-Perth championship win over Stratford District.

Redfern hit some huge free throws near the end of that game, and his coach noted that he was on a tear from the second quarter of the 62-52 semifinal win over Woodstock C.I., right up until the fourth quarter against London Christian. 

"He just switched it on. He was sick last week. Today, a fresh Blake was a different story."

Alen Chen scored 14 points for the Blue Devils in the final and Charlie Geiger added 11. 

Moses said offence and a deep bench again played a big part in both wins at WOSSAA, helping them overcome an 11-2 deficit after the first quarter in the semifinal win. The Blue Devils manged to take a one point halftime lead and were up by 18 at one point against Woodstock C.I., defending WOSSAA champions and the top ranked team at the provincials last year.

Moses expects to do some scouting ahead of the OFSAA tournament. Mitchell hasn't played a lot of tournament games against smaller schools, he noted, so he will reach out to connections acquired over his years of coaching. 

With a good season heading in and Woodstock C.I.'s bronze medal finish for the region in 2023, Moses is hoping for a top four seed in Welland. 

The Blue Devils won the OFSAA championship 40 years ago, in 1984. Their last appearance at the provincial tournament was in 2011.

At the WOSSAA 'AAA' senior boy's championships in London, Stratford District lost 58-44 to Mother Theresa in their semifinal and lost 74-56 to Saint André Bessette in the bronze medal game. Lucas won that tournament final 77-64 over Mother Theresa. At WOSSAA 'AA' boys tournament, St. Mike's lost 58-24 in their semifinal to St. Joseph's, from St. Thomas. Parkside beat St. Mike's 52-51 in the bronze medal game. St. Joseph's beat Regina Mundi 73-64 for the junior title. 

Mitchell Blue Devils are the WOSSAA 'A' boy's basketball champions. Paul Cluff/StratfordToday