The 35th annual Winnipeg Invitational Basketball Tournament (W.I.T.) will take
place at Tec Voc High School (1555 Wall Street) from February 3 to February 6.  The tournament will feature the top local varsity boys basketball
teams versus top teams from Ontario & Alberta. Tournament passes are $6 each and can be picked up at Tec Voc High School (786-1401).  Other highlights of the tournament include the Chicken Delight Dunk contest, NBA
2-Ball contest and the Three Point Sharp Shooting Contest.  For a preview of the tournament including the game schedule...


The 2010 Winnipeg Invitational Tournament is fast
approaching, and Tec Voc is anxiously looking forward to hosting this
phenomenal tournament from February 3rd to the 6th
2010.  Tec Voc is proud to welcome the
following teams to the 2010 Tournament:


  • Abbotsford Collegiate Panthers

  • Grant Park Pirates

  • Kelvin Clippers

  • Mennonite Brethren Hawks

  • Oak Park Raiders

  • Saint Ignatius Falcons

  • St Patrick Fighting Saints

  • St Paul's Crusaders

  • Sturgeon Hts Huskies


Here is the exciting line-up for WIT: (Schedule at the bottom)


Tec Voc Hornets – The 2009 edition of the Tec Voc Hornets are an experienced group featuring a roster full of grade 12’s.   They will look to make this years WIT one they will never forget.  Tec voc returns 6 players three of which were starters from last years team.  Players to watch out for include Jason Kelly, Patrick Bouathong, and Wol Wol.  Jason who is also the quarterback of the Hornets football team is an outstanding all around player.  His best skill and most important to the success of the Hornets is his defense.  Jason is unbelievably quick and will cause opposing guards fits with his full court pressure, which creates easy offense for Tec Voc.  Patrick is also a terrific defender, he can guard any position on the floor.  He is great at getting into passing lanes; coming up with deflections and steals.  Patrick is also a great three point shooter who can light it up from downtown.  Wol is a great leader on and off the court.  He is like having an extra coach.  Wol is committed to the success of the Hornets and is willing to sacrifice himself at both ends of the court for that to happen.  He currently leads the team in rebounding and blocks.  The Hornets will look to use their full court defense to create offense and feed off the energy of the great Tec Voc crowds to lead them to a successful WIT 2010.

Grant Park Pirates –  The Grant Park Pirates enter WIT as a team and program on the rise.  Their grade 12 players have enjoyed success at every level.  They have won their conference at the junior varsity, and grade 11 level.  They are the defending Tier 1 WWAC conference champions.  The Pirates have two big guards that can both shoot and pass the ball extremely well.  Keith Omoerah is 6’4 and has established himself as one of the top players in the province.  He represented Manitoba at the Canada Games last summer.  Dylan Stafford exemplifies the heart and emotion of the Pirates.  His tenacious defense and great shooting can be counted on every game.  JR Alexander is only in grade 11 but his game is big time.  He is the other big guard in the Pirate backcourt.  He is a 6’3 playmaker who is averaging 18 points per game.  Look for the Pirates to play an uptempo transition oriented game.  Their run and gun attitude coupled with their full court pressure should have the Pirates playing late on Saturday.


Sturgeon Heights Huskies
– The Sturgeon Heights Huskies have been ranked as one of the top teams in the province this year.  This should come as no surprise as their grade 12’s played in the provincial final last year and their grade 11’s won the provincial championship as grade 10’s.  Their junior varsity season was an impressive one finishing with a 34 and 1 record and at one point win 31 games in a row.  The Huskies have never won WIT but this being one of their strongest teams ever look for them in the finals on Saturday.  Players to look for include Grade 12 guard Anthony Coombs, grade 11 Eben Rawluk and grade 11 AJ Basi.  Anthony’s leadership and defensive abilities will be looked upon heavily for the Huskies to be successful.  He represented Manitoba at the Canada Games last summer.  Eben is the Huskies man in the paint.  He works tirelessly to protect the basket and help his teammates.  He is the Huskies leading rebounder.  AJ is a great shooter and will look to spot up for open looks created by the inside outside game of Anthony and Eben.  Coach Takie believes the Huskies are deep enough that they don’t miss a beat with anyone on the floor.  Look for them to use their depth and hustle to wear teams down to get to the championship of WIT 2010.

Oak Park Raiders – The Oak Park Raiders are back to challenge for the WIT 2010 title.  The Raiders played for the championship in 2007 and 2008 and hope to take home the title this year.  That goal is an achievable one as the Raiders currently sit as the top ranked team in the province.  The Raiders have already captured the Wesmen classic tournament this year.  Oak Park has a nice mix of guards and big men to play any style.  Players to watch out for are Bryden Bone, Graeme Fardoe and David Kohler.  Bryden is a 6’2 grade 12 forward.  He is the Raiders heart and soul and is often given the task of guarding the other teams best player.  Graeme is a 5”10 guard who is in grade 12.  He is a slick ball handler who if left open can drain the three.  David is a grade 12 post who stands an intimidating 6’9.  He is nearly unstoppable at the rim and will be reilied upon for much of the Raiders scoring and rebounding in the paint.  David represented Manitoba at the Canada Games.  The Raiders will look to play an up tempo game but are fine with a slow and deliberate flow as well.  The Raiders will also play full court man to man defense to put enough points on the board to win.

Mennonite Brethren Hawks – It has been a few years since the MBCI Hawks have played in WIT but whenever they do they are a team to be reckoned with.  This year will be no different, the Hawks are a deep talented team that will play an uptempo game looking to put pressure on the opposition at both ends of the floor.  They are very quick and are ready to attack both offensively and defensively.  Players to look for include, Hudson Isaak, Jon Picicci, and Nick Picicci.  Hudson is a 6’0 grade 12 guard who is currently averaging 15 ppg.  He is an outstanding passer who sees the floor very well.  He is also lightning quick in the open floor.  Jon is a pure scorer who is averaging 24 ppg for the Hawks.  At 6’1 he can play any position on the court.  Nick is a 5’9 grade 12 defensive specialist.  He is often asked to guard the opposing teams best player.  He creates his own offense through his speed at the defensive end of the court.  Look for the MBCI Hawks to use there full court attacking style of play to lead them to a successful WIT 2010.

St. Paul’s Crusaders – The St. Paul’s Crusaders are back at WIT for the second consecutive year, having played in the championship game in 2009.  This years edition of the Crusaders returns 6 players and 1 starter from that team.  Players to watch for include Tanner Draward, Amir Ali, Randy Pennycook.  Tanner is in grade 12 and stands 6’7”.  He represented Manitoba at the Canada games last summer.  He is an athletic post who has a soft touch around the basket, but also has the ability to face up.  He is currently averaging 17 ppg.  Amir is a 6’0 guard who is also in grade 12.  He is averaging 7 ppg by using his all around skills to help the Crusaders.  Randy, or Mr. Pennycook as he is known to teammates is a 6’2 grade 12 forward.  He has very good court sense and finishes well around the basket.  Mr. Pennycook is currently averaging 3 ppg.  The Crusaders combine some talented players from last year and a strong group of grade 11’s.  They will look to play a half court game and use a balanced inside/outside attack.  However look for Coach Laping to encourage St. Paul’s transition game as well.


St. Patrick High School – St. Patrick Fighting Saints travel to Winnipeg From Thunder Bay, Ontario to compete WIT.  In Thunder Bay the Fighting Saints compete in the Superior Secondary Schools Athletic Association.  St. Patrick looks to be competing for their league championship this year.  They return 7 players and three starters from last years team.  The Fighting Saints have been putting a lot of emphasis on defense and rebounding as they feel his will be the key to their success.  Offensively look for them to run when the opportunity is there but they can be patient in the half court.  Players to look for include Rodrigo Albizurez, Jake Falvo, and Christian Puchalski.  Rodrigo is a 6’0” grade 12 point guard who is averaging 12 ppg.  He is very good at running the team getting his teammates easy baskets but also has the ability to get to the rim.  Jake is a 6’1” grade 12 forward who is averaging 15ppg.  He is an outstanding shooter who cannot be left open.  He can also handle the point guard duties if needed.  Christian is a 6’5” grade 12 post, who is averaging 15 ppg.  He is a big bruising post and the teams leading rebounder.  The Fighting Saints hope their bus trip back to Thunder Bay doesn’t happen till late Saturday night.

Abbotsford Collegiate Panthers –  The Abbotsford Collegiate Panthers travel to Winnipeg from Abbotsford, BC.  Head coach Prentice Lenz is a former member of the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, and is looking forward to returning to the ‘Peg as a coach.  The Panthers compete in the Fraser Valley East conference.  Although the Panthers are young they still figure to compete for their conference championship.  They are looking to the WIT to give them some great basketball experiences.  Players to watch for include Joel Hand, Navi Chahal, and Sanjun Mandair.  Joel is a 6’0” grade 11 point guard, who is currently averaging 16 ppg.  He is a great floor leader who really makes the Panthers tick.  He is also a very strong on the ball defender.  Navi is a 6’3 grade 12 post who is averaging 6 ppg.  He is an undersized post but makes up for it with his strength under the basket.  He is also the teams leading rebounder.  Sajun is a 6’4 grade 12 post who is averaging 12 ppg.  He is looking to help the Panthers this year as he returns from an ACL injury.  The Panthers are very excited to be travelling to Winnipeg in February to compete in the 2010 edition of the Winnipeg Invitational Tournament.


St. Ignatius Falcons – The St. Ignatius Falcons travel to Winnipeg for the second consecutive year from Thunder Bay, Ontario to compete in WIT.  The Falcons return 8 players and 4 starters from last years team.  With that much talent St. Ignatius is looking to compete for their conference championship.  Players to watch for include DJ Quaresima, Cody Gibson-Wilke, and Ben Anderson.  DJ is a 5’7” grade 12 guard.  He is the teams leading scorer and is playing his 5th season for the Falcons.  He is a crafty guard who can score from anywhere on the court.  His size does not discourage hime from mixing it up in the paint.  Cody is a 5’10” guard who is averaging 9 ppg.  He is one of five players on this years team to have played on local Thunder Bay club teams.  He is a tough guard who posts up well.  He is the Falcons hardest working player.  Ben is a 6’1” forward was one of the best players for the Falcons last season leading the team in both offensive and defensive rebounding, he will look to continue his dominance on the glass.  The Falcons will look to play an up tempo game using their pressure defense and fast breaking to be successful.  The Falcons hope to travel back down the Trans Canada Saturday night with the 2010 WIT trophy. 

Kelvin Clippers – The Kelvin Clippers enter the Hornet Dome for WIT 2010 as a young team on the rise.  They are talented but start 2 grade 10’s, 2 grade 11’s and only one grade 12.  They are a highly committed group with several former provincial team players.  Players to look for include Michael Thorne-Finch, Jordan Fotheringham, and Kyle Cooper.  Michael is Kelvin’s man in the middle, standing at a solid 6’6.  He is currently averaging 15 ppg, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.  He was one of only two grade tens to play on Manitoba’s Canada Games team last summer.  Jordan is a 6’1 small forward for the Clippers who is averaging 10 ppg.  He is both an exceptional shooter and rebounder from his forward position.  Kyle is the point guard that makes the offense run smoothly.  He is a tenacious defender, averaging nearly 5 steals per game.  He is also a great distributor of the basketball and has had many multiple assist games this year.  He is also one of the strongest academic students at Kelvin.  This years Clippers have more speed and athleticism than years past.  They plan to play more full court man to man defense, mixing in some zone to change the pace.  They like to play in the open court but their bread and butter is still slowing the game down and working the ball through their bigs in order to have an efficient balance offense.

There will be many other activities throughout the tournament including a three point sharp shooting contest and of course the “Lord of the Rim Dunk Contest” at half time of the final game on Saturday night.

More on the tournament is at



Every successful marriage, friendship, business or long-running event has an element of  “How did we make it so far?” As we mark the thirty fifth anniversary of the Winnipeg Invitational Basketball Tournament, organizers marvel at the longevity and on-going quality of the event.

  “It’s been an outstanding tournament over the years,” says Ken Opalko, a player in the first tournament and a coach over the years. “We were very excited to be in that very first one.”

  Those present at the first WIT give credit for its inception to Clyde Perry, the principal of Tec Voc, who got the ball rolling in 1974. “Without Clyde Perry to start the whole thing, it wouldn’t have happened,” says fellow founder Bill Wedlake. Perry worked with Wedlake, Garry Gruebert, Wally Chubaty, E.M. Bradshaw,Larry Marquardson, and Rick Bender to create the WIT, and the first tournament happened in 1976. The goal was to show local fans the best in high school basketball across Canada, and, at the time, the Midwestern United States.

  The tournament was a success from the start. The Hornet Dome, now the Audrey Jones Fieldhouse, was packed with basketball fans who knew the WIT was going to be something special. “It’s the best high school basketball tournament in Winnipeg, there’s no doubt,” says Scott Martin, a former player, WIT committee member, Tec Voc Coach and current coach of the Sisler Spartans.

  Fans throughout the years have agreed with him. Although some thought the crowds were drawn by American teams, the stands were packed after 1980, when the tournament became an all Canadian event. This was also the first year a local team decided to walk all over the competitors from out of Manitoba. The St. John’s Tigers won the tournament that year. WIT founder Wedlake was the coach of that team. “We beat quality teams,” he says. “I don’t think people expected us to win.”

  In 1984, the tournament changed format again from an eight team event to a sixteen team arrangement. With this many teams, it was necessary to have the facilities at Tec Voc, Daniel Mac and St. Johns. However, the tournament was always primarily held at Tec Voc, and came home for the final games. In 1989 it returned to Tec Voc becoming a six team round robin contest. This lasted only two years, however, and from 1991 on, the WIT has been in its present format: ten teams guaranteed three games each, playing at Tec Voc where players consider facilities among the best in the province. However, it’s not just the facilities and players that lead to the tournament’s success.

  “The whole Tec Voc School gets involved,” says Opalko. That’s a very special thing, from ticket sellers, to people at the door, to half time entertainment, to those setting up the tournament. This involvement on the part of Tec Voc, and the ready access to the resources of Tec Voc’s shop courses, such as commercial cooking, photography, advertising art, and graphic arts, mean the WIT can be as much a festival as a tournament. The involvement and accomplishments of individual teams and players can be celebrated and acknowledged. “Clyde saw it as so much more than, Let’s shoot some hoops and send some numbers in to the Free Press,” says Wedlake.

  Todd MacCulloch, the most successful product of the Manitoba High School Basketball System, who played for the Philadelphia 76er’s and New Jersey Nets remembers WIT as a major highlight of his High School Basketball career.

  He called WIT “the biggest tournament in the province and THE tournament to win.” He recalls that “ you won (WIT) you were in good shape to win the Provincial Championship tournament.” Which is what he did, as a member of the Shaftsbury Titans. Todd won back to back WIT titles in 1993 and 1994.

  One of the things that make the WIT “so much more” is the ready involvement of the Radio Television and Broadcasting Department, which has had students shoot the tournament for thirteen years. This year the RTB department, in partnership with the ITS department, will be broadcasting live over streaming video on the Internet and for the last two games live on Shaw Cable. This is a new step for the course, which has more than three dozen students produce their broadcast. “It’s really exciting,” says student Jen Challoner, “everything we’ve always learnt is put into practice.”

  “The idea was to provide Winnipeg teams with a chance to compete with the best,” Clyde Perry says of the WIT. Tec Voc and the WIT committee are proud to say that original goal has never changed, despite alterations in format and location.

  The last four years have been the best attended tournaments. During these years there has been a Winnipeg team versus an American team in the final and the fans have flocked in to see these games.

  After thirty five years, it’s still producing and proudly displaying great high school basketball for fans and a wonderful opportunity for players and coaches to come out and compete.

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