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Classic battle

TORONTO – It will be tradition vs.

Thursday, January 11, 2001

TORONTO – It will be tradition vs. tradition. One of Canada’s top basketball programs will meet one of Ohio’s more successful programs when Runny Mede of Ontario, Canada, meets the Chesapeake Panthers in the Coaxel Classic at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Columbus downtown Convention Center.

During the 52 years of high school basketball in Canada, Runny Mede has won six gold medals or the equivalent of a state championship in Ohio. It is the winningest program in Canada’s high school basketball history and has won four of those titles in 1985, ’86, ’89, and ’90.

Runny Mede also has four silver (runner-up) medals including ’84, ’92, and ’96, and two bronze (’88, ’94).

"Last year was a rebuilding year, so it was a struggle and we’re back in pretty good shape now," second-year Runny Mede head coach Saeed Al-Naji said of his team’s 5-2 record. "We’ve had a rough start, but we’re clicking a little better now.

Runny Mede is 5-2 with the two losses coming to a pair of top 10 teams in Ontario. One loss was two points and the other by 10.

The biggest stumbling block for the school has been due to a teachers’ strike that has kept teachers from participating or supervising any extracurricular activities.

"I don’t teach at the school, so I’ve had no supervision. I’ve taken it upon myself to keep us running and get whatever resources as we can," said Al-Naji.

"We’ve been going to high school tournaments but not under our high school name. We’ve had little support from anyone."

While suffering off-the-court problems, Runny Mede is causing on-the-court problems for opposing teams mainly because of 6-foot-11 junior center Stevan Marcetic who averages 15 points a game.

"I might be biased because he’s my player, but I think he’s the best big man in Canada. If not, he’s not the best, he’s of of the top two or three," Al-Naji said.

Runny Mede starts three seniors: 6-foot point guard Kofi Kusi/Achampong, 6-3 forward Emanuel Tekie, and 6-5 forward Alex Lapidus. The other starter is 6-foot junior shooting guard Drew Bynoe.

Tekie averages 12.0 points and 4.0 rebounds, Lapidus 10 points and 5.0 rebounds, and Bynoe and Kusi/Achampong 8.0 points each.

The top players off the bench are 6-5 sophomore Colin Morrison and 6-foot senior Richard Avjeibapaah.

"We play some man-to-man, but we’ll mix it up according to the mood of the game. Our zone has saved us against some teams," Al-Naji said.

The Panthers have a balanced attack with four players in double figures.

Anthony Delimpo, a 6-6 senior center, leads the team with a 13.9 scoring average. Bobby Barbour, a 5-9 senior guard, is next with a 12.9 average on the strength of his 3-point shooting range.

Senior Zeb Best, a 6-4 forward, has an 11.4 scoring average while 6-2 senior forward Josh Waugh averages 10.5 points a game.

Chesapeake is 8-0 and ranked ninth in Division III of the first Associated Press poll.

Here is the schedule of games:

9 a.m. – Huntington Ross. vs. Newport Prep (Kensington, Md.); 10:45 a.m. – Wellston vs. Bonner Academy (Durham, N.C.); 12:30 p.m. – Logan vs. Lima Senior; 2:15 – Zanesville vs. Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, TN.); 4:00 – Chesapeake vs. Runny Mede (Toronto, Canada); 5:45 – Canton McKinley vs. Kettering Alter; 7:30 – Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s vs. Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.); 9:15 – Pickerington vs. Reynoldsburg.

All games will be played at Batelle Hall which is attacked to the Columbus Convention Center in downtown Columbus. Tickets are $15 and available at Chesapeake High School.