Bishop Mac, Orangeville crowned D10 champions
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Bishop Macdonell Celtics and Orangeville Bears did exactly what they were favoured to do Saturday night in the Guelph CVI gymnasium as they captured District 10 high schools girls’ basketball championships.
Bishop Mac in senior and Orangeville in junior both put unblemished D10 records on the line in their championship matches.
The Celtics had won 10 times in the senior regular season and added a semifinal victory.
The Bears won 14 times in the larger junior league’s regular season and followed that with wins in the quarter-finals and semifinals.
Both also became championship winners this year after coming out on the short end in last year’s D10 finals.
The Celtics won this year’s senior final 43-29 over the Lourdes Crusaders, the team they’d lost to by four points in last year’s final.
“That was a tough final and we’ve always had a lot of respect for Lourdes,” Bishop Mac coach Dario Di Renzo said. “That’s two years in a row that we both battled for the D10 final and I didn’t expect anything less, especially being coached by Mark (Tonizzo). I’ve got a lot of respect for him and the way he coaches his team. They were going to come out hard and we knew that.”
The Bears won this year’s junior final 64-27 over the Ross Royals, making up a little for last year’s loss in the final on their home court.
“I don’t think it makes up for it. It’s different,” said Orangeville coach Wayne Feeney who had had sons play sons play senior boys’ basketball at St. James. “Bob Sharpe (St. James senior boys’ coach) would tell you they’re all sweet. Was last year a little bitter? No, because the kids did what they were supposed to do. They worked hard. They executed. BM had beaten us once in the year and we had beaten BM once in the year. At the end of the game, we were down two and we had two chances to tie it up and do something with it and it just didn’t happen. That’s why you play and it’s competition. This is nice, but it would’ve been really nice to be two in a row.”
Bishop Mac had to deal with the pressure of being the favourite throughout the season. They were expected to win from the opening game of the season.
“That was always in the back of my mind to keep the team motivated was sort of a factor,” Di Renzo said. “I just kept telling them ‘Let’s play one quarter at a time and let’s take one play at a time and not think about the fourth quarter. One play at a time and one quarter at a time, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.’”
“When you go 10-0, you’ve got to finish those games,” Bishop Mac centre Naomi Ganpo said. “The coaches were yelling at us before. ‘If we lose this, I can’t believe it because it was a 10-0 season. We can’t finish like that.’”
The Crusaders had finished the regular season second at 8-2, but they had lost 53-20 to the Celtics at Bishop Mac in their season opener Sept. 19 and 56-36 to Bishop Mac at Lourdes to start the second half of the season Oct. 12.
Lourdes tightened up its defence in the championship match to hold Bishop Mac to its lowest output in a D10 game this season.
“It was kind of tough in the beginning, but at the end we just went for it,” Ganpo said. She had the assignment of working in the paint and she drew plenty of attention from the Crusaders, especially Jessica Mathieu. “My shots weren’t going in. I guess I wasn’t focused and their defence was really good.”
The Celtics jumped to a 13-5 lead in the first quarter and stretched it to 27-9 by halftime. Bishop Mac was ahead 36-14 at the end of the third quarter.
Alicia Higgins led the Celtics with 12 points while Grace Drewry and Ganpo added 10 apiece.
Jada Codrington had 12 for Lourdes while Samantha Romero and Mathieu collected six each.
The Celtics were heavy favourites as they benefited from the folding of Guelph Prep, the team that played in the girls’ division of the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association last season. While that team played and practised at the University of Guelph, all its girls attended Bishop Mac and a couple of the players (Ganpo and Higgins) remained enrolled at the school. On the Celtics they’re surrounded by numerous rep players from the Guelph Youth Basketball Association Junior Gryphons and Guelph CYO Knights. The Crusaders had eight players total.
As both the championship-game combatants are AA schools, Bishop Mac moves on to the CWOSSA AA tournament while the season ends for Lourdes. The CWOSSA AA tournament is to be held Friday and Saturday at Waterloo.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Di Renzo said. “We need to clean up a few things and I learned a few things even tonight by the way we played. We need to come out and play the type of game we can play and hopefully the rest looks after itself.”
“We’ve just got to stay strong,” Ganpo said. “We’re not worried about competition, we just worry about ourselves – focusing on our game.”
The Guelph CVI Green Gaels, who finished third at the end of the regular season, are D10’s representative in the CWOSSA AAA tournament Friday and Saturday at Kitchener. The champion of that tournament advances to the provincial OFSAA AAA tournament hosted by Centennial CVI Nov. 23 to 25.
Orangeville also took on the pressure of being favourites and put it away early.
The Bears, led by Spanish national junior team hopeful Marta Suarez, led 27-6 at the end of the first quarter, 44-12 at halftime and 54-20 after the third quarter.
“Marta is outstanding, Alicia (Bowering) is very good, but the other kids are picking it up and the other kids are picking it up, playing better and doing what we ask them to do,” Feeney said.
Playing and practising throughout the season with a player like Suarez, the best player on the floor in the championship match, has got to rub off.
“I would think so to, but sometimes they’re guilty of sitting and watching her play,” Feeney said. “At the same time, she and Alicia are like having two coaches on the floor. They are positive with every kid and they’re always giving them pointers helping them out.”
Ross had finished the regular season second at 12-2, the losses coming against the Bears – 63-42 at Orangeville Oct. 10 and 58-33 at Ross Nov. 2.
“We’ve played them now four times and we’ve beaten them by 20-plus three times and beat them in overtime once,” Feeney said. “We defended them quick, awfully early and got them into a big hole. They’re not a bad team. They worked hard and they gave us a good run in the third quarter. The girls played hard. I didn’t expect it to be that (a 37-point difference in the end), but it’s awesome.”
The Royals tried to play Orangeville tight, but foul calls sent the Bears to the line where they collected 14 of their first-quarter points. In all, the Bears sank 23 of their 31 foul shots while Ross drained four of their 16.
Suarez led the Bears with 31 points while Bowering had 19 and Ella MacDonald collected 11.
Sarah Hopkins netted 17 for Ross while Megan Beamish had six.
The championship win also gave the Bears the D10 berth in the CWOSSA AAA tournament at Kitchener Friday and Saturday.
“I have no idea (what to expect there),” Feeney said. “I thought Brantford Collegiate would be really strong. They’ve lost back-to-back to St. John’s so St. John’s is going. KCI was good last year, but I know they’ve lost a lot of kids and they’re going to be the first-place team from WCSSAA (Waterloo County Secondary School Athletics Association). I haven’t seen either of them and I don’t know what to expect. We’re just going to have to play well.
“Would I like to know what we’re facing? Yeah, I would, but we can’t control them. We can only control what we do.”
The third-place St. James Lions (10-4) will be the D10 representative in the CWOSSA AA tournament at Waterloo Friday and Saturday.