Heir apparent

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:26 PM ET

Almost from the moment he lost last season's Ontario junior men's curling semifinal, Scott McDonald has been tagged the heir apparent.

It's something the 19-year-old Highland skip sees as a double-edged sword.

"We've been hearing a lot that the championship should be ours this season and next," said McDonald, who has his brother Michael at lead, Brodie Tarvit at second and Micky Lizmore at third. "You want to hear that, but at the same time you don't want to hear that so you don't get complacent. We'd like to fly under the radar, but with the success we've had recently I guess that's not possible.

"We're just going to have to take it all as it comes. The pressure is on us to take our game to the next level and we know everyone's going to be gunning for us, so we have to treat each game as something more important than it really is. We just have to focus on playing every shot for just that and hopefully at the end of the week, we've put ourselves in the position to make an open shot in the four-foot for the championship. The really good thing is we realize we can play with the top teams."

McDonald's rink is competing this weekend in the London Junior Cashspiel, which has 24 men's and 24 women's teams vying for first prizes of $1,200 each. Pool play wraps up today at Highland and London CC, with the semifinals and finals in the top three flights tomorrow at Highland, the bottom three at LCC. Championship games in all flights are set for 2:30 p.m.

McDonald's rink sits second in the Ontario Junior Curling Tour standings with 45 points, having won the Peterborough event last month. They finished second overall last season to Mark Bice of Sarnia, who also won the Ontario junior championship, but McDonald isn't counting anything as given, citing Codey Maus of Peterborough (Bice's third last season) and Chris Gardner of Ottawa among other teams to watch.

"This year looks really good for us and we want to get it started well," said McDonald, a second-year health sciences student at Western. "We have a few more things to work on, but we're on track to peak when we want to."

The rink is in its fourth season together -- a rarity in junior given the age limit (20 and under as of Dec. 31).

"We have a fantastic team dynamic, which is especially important in junior, when one missed shot can send a player off track," McDonald said.

That dynamic will come in handy as the zone playdowns are fast approaching -- for McDonald, the Zone 16 event at Ilderton Nov. 18-20. The regionals are set for the next weekend at Ripley with the provincials at Toronto Tam Heather Jan. 4-8.

Around the house

Phil Daniel of Tilbury beat Pat Ferris of Grimsby 8-4 to win the $5,000 first prize in the Co-Operators Cashspiel in Guelph. Jim Lyle of St. Thomas won $1,500 for his quarter-final finish. Ilderton's Kirk Ziola took home $920 . . . The Ontario Curling Tour is in Brampton for the $35,000 Bacardi Cashspiel. Among local rinks entered are Heath McCormick of Sarnia on the men's side and Becky Philpott of Listowel, Stacey Brandwood of Ilderton and Jo-Ann Rizzo of Brant.


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