West Ottawa Basketball competes in the first-ever Ottawa Super League finals

(West Ottawa U19 Basketball Team, along with coaches Tarcisse Ruhamyandekwe and Navdeep Dhillon, pose with their silver medals after the March 22, 2023 inaugural Ottawa Super League Championship game held at Notre Dame High School. Photos: West Ottawa Basketball Association)

On Wednesday, March 22nd, the Ottawa Super League had its inaugural season come to an end as the West Ottawa Basketball Association faced off against Canadian Top Flight Academy in the finals at Notre Dame High School. In just their first season as a league, the OSL had 18 teams registered from all across the city and even as far as Montreal and Brockville in the U19 and U18 age divisions. 

Despite being a new league, the OSL saw a lot of success in its first season. The hype around basketball in Ottawa is certainly present and was only encouraged by the coverage it receives from media accounts like @hoopthereit_is and @ottawahoops. These photography and videography accounts dedicated a lot of their time throughout the Ottawa Super League season to cover games, report scores, and provide action shots and player profiles. 

The West Ottawa U19 boys finished the OSL season as the number two seed and made their way all the way to the league finals after defeating the number 3 ranked Ottawa Elite. But with their top two players out,  the Hornets boys, unfortunately, fell 101-78 in an offensive battle against  Canadian Top Flight Academy Gold in the championship game. 

Despite the loss, the West Ottawa boys still had an impressive season finishing with a 9-3 record in the regular season. The boys’ success likely stems from the fact that they have been together for over six years with the same core of players and coaches. 

Head Coach of the team Tarcisse Ruhamyandekwe says, “This team has been consistently ranked among the top teams in Ontario Basketball Association for the last 6 years. This season, OSL is among the few events they have had to participate in and they have succeeded in all of them.”  Their list of accomplishments this season so far includes being the champions of the Chris Paulin Tournament organized by ONL-X, champions of Classique des Nomades organized by College Montmorency in Montreal and now they are OSL Championship finalists.  Following their run in the OSL playoffs, Tarcisse says that he is “sure they will have more successes in upcoming events such as ONL-X Classic next weekend and OBL-X starting in April.”

 If you ever get the chance to attend one of these boys’ games when they play in Ottawa, you won’t be disappointed. The basketball at this high of a level in Ottawa is incredibly entertaining to watch, and the heart of this West Ottawa team makes it that much more enjoyable. 

 The majority of the players on the U19 boys team are in their last year of eligibility for the age division and will age out next year. They had originally not all planned to come back, as they are now all in first-year university and would be off starting their futures, however just before the season, they all made the decision to come back for one last dance as a team. Tarcisse was no doubt pleased with this decision as he says, “I personally have known some of the players when they were as young as 10 years old. As a coach, you can’t dream of a better group.” 

(The Silver Medals are handed out to the West Ottawa Basketball boy’s team who placed second in the inaugural Ottawa Super League Championships held on March 22, 2023 at Notre Dame High School.)

Knowing each other so well and having competed together for over six years, the boys were able to get to work immediately and were all on the same page heading into the season. It is an incredible advantage to have a group of returning players going into the beginning of the season, especially when they are all motivated to make their last season together the best one. “No one wants it to end. Parents, coaching staff, players…no one wants to think that this is their last year. It is way too emotional. It’s like when your children leave home. Personally, it makes me really sad. It is my last year coaching this group (after almost 8 years for some of them) and I am not sure how I will survive. They are like my own children,” Coach Tarssice says when asked about what coaching these boys one last time means to him. 

Heading into the final stretch of their last season together, ​​Tarcisse explains his connection to the team and relationship with the boys as a feeling of becoming “more like a parent than a coach to them. You know what are their individual aspirations and goals; you understand their feelings, their fears, and so on. It becomes more than coaching basketball; it becomes personal and you think more about raising good young men through basketball skills such team player; collaboration, and resilience. All skills we need in real life and when basketball is over.”

It is no doubt an emotional final season for these boys, as they have been together for so long and have become a family in many ways. Tarcisse explains their success to be a result of the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” Not only is the team as close as a family but “Parents on this team are simply amazing. Their support has been consistent since the beginning. Usually, parents tend to drop out and don’t show up at the games when players start driving themselves. Parents of U19 West Ottawa hornets are exceptional. They still come to games, they travel with the boys; they cheer loud. I have been in basketball for more than 15 years but I have never seen such commitment from parents. It is unusual. And it reflects on their children’s behaviour: the boys are so polite that we always get compliments from refs, other organizations.” Tarcisse even mentions that, “others say that we are way too nice to compete.” 

However, the teamwork of this team was not the only factor in its success, the U19 West Ottawa Boys team is an incredibly talented group of individuals. Most notably, Cid Ruhamyandekwe won the first-ever season MVP in the Ottawa Super League’s inaugural season. With the numbers, he put up this season, between recording multiple 20+ point games and being an impressive rebounder, Cid’s MVP-contending season will be hard to follow in the OSL seasons to come.

(Cid Ruhamyandekwe (l) of the U19AAA West Ottawa boy’s team won the first-ever season MVP in the Ottawa Super League’s inaugural season.)

Even though they have standout players on their team, Tarcisse says much of their success comes from the fact that “selfishness isn’t among the boys’ vocabulary. They play to win as a team and lose as a team but they still get happy when one of them gets recognized.” He even explains that “although we lost the OSL Championship, one of our players was named Super League MVP after scoring 35 points in the game, it was touching to see the whole team celebrate that performance. So for them, we are Vice-Champions and we have an MVP. You have to be good to celebrate others’ successes.”

This team has been truly inspirational and entertaining to follow throughout their OSL season and will no doubt finish off their season as strong as they started it. Even though Coach Tarcisse attributes much of their success to the players and how good of people and athletes they have become, there is no doubt that a lot of that success and development has been a result of the above-and-beyond coaching they have received over the past several years. 

As a true testament to Tarcisse’s incredible character and dedication to the boys he coaches, when asked if there was anything else he wanted to add, the only comment Tarcisse had to make was a message he would like to share with anyone reading, “please keep children in sports. Everyone wins when that happens. Otherwise, we fail the next generation and the country as a whole.”


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