D10 girls’ basketball titles for Celtics and Lions
Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal
GUELPH – The Bishop Macdonell completed their unbeaten run through the District 10 high school senior girls’ basketball season with a 60-28 victory over the Centennial Spartans in Saturday night’s championship match at the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre.
“You never know what teams are going to throw at you,” Bishop Mac coach Dwight Higgins said. “I’ve known (Centennial coach) Toffer (Treiguts) for many years and I figured he was going to throw some stuff at us, but I think we were prepared for that. We were quite prepared for that so that played in our favour, which was kind of nice.”
The win was the second consecutive title win for Bishop Mac and its 16th in the history of the league.
“It’s always our defence,” Higgins said of his team’s strength in the game. “Our shots weren’t going in the way I like to see, but the defence made up the difference. It’s always been defence, all the way through the season.”
Bishop Mac finished the regular season in first place at 12-0 while Centennial was third at 8-4. Being unbeaten put some more pressure on the Celtics.
“It’s a lot,” Bishop Mac point guard Rachel Guanzon said. “A lot of the teams in Guelph are coming after us, but we just have to keep it in mind that we’re undefeated and we’ve just got to hold our heads high and play hard, just like we’ve been doing all season.”
“With the team that we have, that was a goal,” Higgins said of the unbeaten season in D10. “As a coach, I like to keep the team motivated and throughout the season we set little mini-goals and one of our goals mid-season was to stay undefeated. We met that goal and we took another goal to win D10. We just take one little baby step each time, each goal. The next goal is CWOSSA.”
The Celtics jumped ahead early in the D10 final and never looked back as they led 15-8 at the end of the first quarter, 27-14 at halftime and 45-25 at the end of the third quarter.
Guanzon struck for a game-high 23 points for Bishop Mac while Ashley Coverdale had nine, Maja Gadzinska seven, Alicia Higgins five and Keely McCrone, Maddie St. Denis, Allie Churchill and Tyla Timlock four apiece.
Jocelyn Newby had 12 points for Centennial with six coming on free throws. Jessica Zhu and Amy Gray contributed four points apiece while Sydney Thomas, Miren Oliver and Madison Miller each had two and Julia Zonneveld and Sarah Cobey had one each.
To be honest, the Celtics haven’t had much competition in league play and the score in the final was pretty indicative of the scores they’ve had all season. They outscored their opponents by 319 points during the regular season, winning by an average score of 56-29.
“Teams, going through the season, they’ve definitely got better,” Guanzon said. “We’ve just got to keep playing like we do and not play down.”
Guanzon handled the ball a lot in the game and she used her experience to guide Bishop Mac’s offence.
“Being a 12-plus player, I had to play the game that I always do – just set an example for these girls and play hard,” she said. “Being a point guard especially, I love just being a general on the floor, helping my teammates out and just scoring a lot.”
Both teams advance to CWOSSA championship tournaments Friday and Saturday, Bishop Mac at the AA tournament at Cambridge and Waterloo and Centennial at the AAA tournament at Kitchener.
The Celtics are the reigning CWOSSA AA champions and Guelph teams have won the regional title 14 consecutive year – 13 times by Bishop Mac and once by the Lourdes Crusaders (2016).
“There is pressure because, again, teams are after us being undefeated in D10,” Guanzon said. “Teams should know about us and we’ve just got to keep our heads up.”
“Whoever we play, we just have to be prepared,” coach Higgins said.
The St. James Lions collected their first D10 junior title win since 2009 with a 41-25 victory over the Orangeville Bears in Saturday night’s championship match at the GGAC.
Offensively, the Lions started slowly in the opening half before they found their scoring touch in the second half.
“No game goes exactly how you think it will go,” St. James coach Mike Rafter said. “We got a lot of shots in the first half, didn’t put a lot of buckets in, but our defence was better than I thought it would be. Our defence was so solid tonight and I think it gave them a lot of problems and everything fed off of that defence.”
The Lions grabbed an 11-5 lead in the first quarter and were up 16-9 at halftime. St. James extended its lead to 30-17 by the end of the third quarter.
“I’d definitely say we’re a defence-first team and offence is second,” Rafter said. “We got turnovers and we were able to get easier buckets in the second half. That made the entire defence.”
Amanda Lago hit for 18 points for St. James while Ella Farrelly had 10, Elivia Garbuio nine and Olivia Brown four.
Emilie Franz’s nine points topped Orangeville’s scoring list. Victoria Tesar had seven, Emily Bell six, Jazmyn Lazar three and Kennedy Peddie two.
Each team’s top scorer was judged to be her team’s MVP of the final.
The title win was the seventh for St. James in the history of the league.
The Lions had finished the regular season in first place at 13-1 while Orangeville was second at 12-2.
“We are finally healthy,” Rafter said. “I think that was our sixth game all year with our whole team so the difference of that and just getting our continuity back, we did better than I thought we would.
“Our girl who just won MVP, Amanda, she had missed almost the last month. She comes back, it’s her second game playing, and she was able to do that. When you get contributions like that, this team is scary to play against.”
The lone loss in D10 play for the Lions came in their second-last game of the regular season when they were edged by a single point by the fifth-place Guelph CVI Green Gaels. While they wouldn’t be happy for the setback, that loss might have come at a good time for the Lions.
“It’s good to know as a reminder that anybody could beat you,” Rafter said. “The girls rebounded, so to speak, and they turned it around and now we’re moving in the right direction.”
St. James moves on to the CWOSSA AA tournament while Orangeville advances to the CWOSSA AAA tournament.
“I don’t think we’ve played one team in CWOSSA,” Rafter said. “It’s one of those things. CWOSSA’s really funny in that we’ve played a lot of the AAA teams, but not the AA teams. There’s a learning curve when you get there. There’s nerves and jitters. It’s just kind of getting your feet wet and that’s the hardest part sometimes at CWOSSA.”
The Lions are to compete in the AA tournament at Waterloo Friday and Saturday while Orangeville is to compete in the AAA tournament at Kitchener the same two days.