T-Birds three-peat 0
They knew they could do it.
It just took them a little while to get going.
Mitch Farrell put up 31 points to lead the Twin Lakes Thunderbirds to a 72-49 victory over the Barrie Central Phoenix, leading his school to its third consecutive Georgian Bay Secondary School Association senior boys basketball 'AA' title.
"I thought everyone played their hardest tonight," said Twin Lakes's Drew Whitfield. "We knew we'd be coming up against Central and we scouted them (on Thursday).
"We came out here and did what we could, and it paid off."
Jacob Clendinning scored 10 points while his brother Sean and Whitfield each knocked back nine apiece for the Thunderbirds.
Mackenzie Morrison led the Phoenix with 21, while Tyrelle Slack added 10 for a squad that was decimated by injuries.
"We've been hit by the injury bug pretty badly," said Barrie Central coach Steve Porter, who also applauded the strong play by Twin Lakes.
"We lost (starters) Patrick (Berardi) going into the game, Adam (Lowther) for a while, Andre Lambert, our inside player, and Tyrelle, who rolled his ankle.
"You can't win championships when your most talented players are on the bench with injuries."
The Phoenix came out strong to start things off, as Barrie Central held a 17-15 lead after the first quarter, with Morrison scoring 10 of those points.
But as much as the first belonged to Morrison, the second quarter was all Farrell.
The phenom, who has verbally committed to play for the New Jersey Institute of Technology next season, hit a pair of three-pointers and a couple of jump shots to give the Thunderbirds a hefty lead.
"Mitch brings a lot of intensity," Whitfield said. "When you're down, Mitch will tell you what you're doing wrong, what you need to do, and get you all hyped up."
When Farrell wasn't scoring, he was accumulating steals, blocks, rebounds and assists, as Barrie Central could never completely shut him down.
"Mitch proved that he's probably the best player in this area," Porter said. "He hit shots that he was fully guarded on.
"I thought Mackenzie did a fantastic job guarding him, and he still ended up with 31 points. What can you do?"
Twin Lakes ended the first half in control of the contest, up 41-27.
"We started to want it more (in the second quarter)," Whitfield said. "Once they started strong and we realized that we weren't just going to take it from them, we had to play harder and want it more."
Barrie Central wouldn't give in easily, as Alex Quesnel hit a three-pointer to begin the third quarter, and after a back-and-forth eight minutes, the Phoenix had cut the Thunderbirds lead to 10.
But Farrell opened the fourth with a steal, lay-up and successful foul shot, and the Thunderbirds were off to the races again, pouring on 21 points in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Even in defeat, Porter was pleased with the effort the Phoenix put in.
"I'm proud of our guys," Porter said. "If we had everybody, I'd bet it would be a whole lot closer, but we can't use injuries as an excuse.
"Today, we just didn't have it, and that's the way it goes."
Meanwhile, for Twin Lakes, the big games have just begun, as they now prepare for the Ontario Federation of Schools Athletics Association 'AA' basketball championships in St. Catharines, which will run from March 5-7.
"I think we need to work on playing as a team, running our plays through, and making sure everyone knows where they are and where they're supposed to be on the court," Whitfield said.
"We're looking forward to it."