Celtics march into senior final where they’ll face Centennial
GUELPH – The Bishop Macdonell Celtics continued their unbeaten march through the District 10 high school senior girls’ basketball season Thursday when they dropped the Guelph CVI Green Gaels 67-31 in a semifinal match on their home court.
The win was the 13th in 13 D10 outings this season for the Celtics. They won all 12 of their regular-season games to receive a bye in the quarter-finals.
The Celtics were the highest-scoring team in the league during the regular season, they were also the hardest team to score against as they also allowed the fewest points.
Despite the intensity and pressure of the playoffs, Bishop Mac upped its game defensively with a smothering press.
“We’ve been working on it all season,” Bishop Mac coach Dwight Higgins said. “I’m a defensive coach and when I coach my first topic of discussion is always defence so any team I coach, they’ve got to bring the defence.
“We were trying a few new things. It was a little bumpy at the beginning, but they picked it up by the end which was kind of nice.”
The semifinal victory stretched Bishop Mac’s undefeated streak in D10 play to 25 games as the Celtics have not lost since being edged 56-52 by the Lourdes Crusaders in the 2016 final.
The Celtics have had a relatively easy time in league play this season. Of their 13 wins, only one – a 50-42 victory over the Gaels at GCVI Sept. 20 – was by less than 10 points.
“It’s not been tough, but every game is different and you never know when another team is going to throw something new at you so you have to be prepared,” Higgins said. “Saying it’s an easy league, it’s hard to say that because there are some teams that will throw stuff at you that could shut you down and you have to find ways to beat that.”
One thing about the way Bishop Mac’s games have gone is that it has given the Celtics a chance to give every one of their players meaningful minutes on the court. Quite often the Celtics replace all five players on the court with players off the bench.
“We try to,” Higgins said. “My motto as a coach is that I try to get all my players on the court.”
Thursday, Bishop Mac gained control early as they led the Gaels 21-8 at the end of the first quarter and stretched that lead to 38-16 by halftime. The hosts were ahead 53-22 at the end of the third quarter.
Ashley Coverdale led the Celtics with 12 points while Maddie St. Denis and Alicia Higgins each had 11. Allie Churchill added eight and Vanessa Tassone and Tyla Timlock contributed seven apiece.
Cassidy Andrews had 12 for GCVI and Leksi Dawes and Bianca Fraresso each had five.
If the Celtics have a concern heading into Saturday’s final, it’s the number of fouls they take. They were whistled for 21 of the 32 called in the semifinal.
“It’s a work in progress,” Higgins said of trying to cut down the fouls, most of them called for reaching in to try to steal the basketball from their opponents. “It’s something that I’m quite aware of going down the stretch.”
The Celtics are to play the Centennial Spartans in Saturday’s final after the Spartans handed the Orangeville Scarlet Bears a 37-24 setback in Thursday’s other semifinal at Orangeville.
Orangeville had finished second at 9-3 and Centennial third at 8-4 after the Bears defeated the Spartans at Centennial last week on the final day of the regular season.
Top scorers from Thursday’s semifinal at Orangeville were not reported.
Bishop Mac swept its two regular-season matches with Centennial, winning 61-25 at home in the season opener Sept. 18 and 44-27 at Centennial Oct. 11.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, both teams advance to CWOSSA tournaments next week – Bishop Mac to the AA tournament at Cambridge and Waterloo Nov. 16 and 17 and Centennial to the AAA tournament at Kitchener the same two days.
Guelph schools have won every AA tournament from 2004 on, all but 2016 by Bishop Mac. Lourdes won in 2016.
A Guelph school hasn’t won the AAA title since 1999 when it was won by Lourdes. However, AAAA was added as the highest level in 2002 and the St. James Lions won it the following year. Centennial won the CWOSSA AAA title twice as the Spartans prevailed in1996 and 1998.
Saturday’s D10 final at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre is to start around 8 p.m., following the junior final.
The junior final will pit the St. James Lions against the Orangeville Scarlet Bears.
In Thursday’s semifinals, the Lions dropped the Ross Royals 37-18 and the Scarlet Bears doubled the Centre Wellington Falcons 46-23.
Elivia Garbuio had 10 points for St. James in the win over Ross while Ella Farrelly added eight.
Drue Costello had six for Ross and Koby Commandmant netted three.
Emilie Franz struck for 17 points for the Scarlet Bears in their semifinal match while Emily Bell had 10.
Centre Wellington received seven from Frances Wolkensperg and six from Kara den Hoed.
St. James finished the regular season in first place at 13-1 while Orangeville was second at 12-2.
The Lions swept their regular-season games with the Scarlet Bears, winning 39-25 at home Sept. 20 and 32-27 at Orangeville Oct. 16.
As is the case in senior, both junior combatants advance to CWOSSA tournaments as St. James will move on to the AA tournament and Orangeville to the AAA tournament.
The Lions are the defending CWOSSA AA champions as their win stretched Guelph’s hold on the title to 15 years.
No D10 school has won the junior AAA title since GCVI took it in 2012. However, AAAA was the highest level then and the last D10 team to win at that level was GCVI in 2008. AAAA came into existence in 2003 and was eliminated after the 2014-15 school year.
Orangeville has one CWOSSA junior title win in its history as the Bears took the AA crown in 1988.
The D10 final at the GGAC Saturday is to start at 6 p.m.
- Guelph Sports Journal