Lions get a bonus with win in their season opener
GUELPH – After two years away from District 10 high school senior girls’ basketball league play, the St. James Lions are considering any success they have in league play to be a bonus.
“(Wins are) the visual success for improvement, but the internal success — I want the girls to internally drive to get better — is what we’re striving for. If the wins happen, that’s a bonus,” St. James coach Michael O’Rourke said. “We started with a bonus today and I’m very happy and it sets us up. The top four make playoffs and getting any win you can will push you hopefully toward that playoff.”
The Lions are the defending champions as they won the 2019 season crown, but Elivia Garbuio is the lone player back from that squad.
“They exceeded my expectation by tenfold,” O’Rourke said. “We have three girls who it was their very first high school basketball game ever. We have two girls who it was their very first basketball game ever. For them to come out and hustle and do the best they can and come to the bench and listen, it’s all you can ask for.
“We have some good leaders. We have one leader who was on the CWOSSA and OFSAA team and she’s been great. She got the hoops when we needed the hoops. We are all Grade 11s pretty much. We have one Grade 12 player who’s been there before, there are some players who played in Grade 11 and we have our three new kids. I didn’t expect this. They blew my mind.”
With so many players new to the team and the sport, the Lions spend a lot of their practice time on the basics, the fundamentals.
“I only have one girl who plays on a rep team outside of school,” O’Rourke said. “If we can just improve one little thing every game, I’d be happy. The success of the team is not with wins and losses. That just happens. Success is just building those skills and then building toward the future.”
Thursday, St. James was the last team in the league to get its start this season. With the loop being seven teams strong, one team gets a bye each game day and it was the Lions who were idle on opening day Tuesday. In their opener the Lions defeated the Bishop Macdonell Celtics 37-29.
The Lions held quarter leads of 11-7, 17-11 and 29-18.
Garbuio hit four three-pointers on her way to an 18-point outing for St. James while Eva Wenger collected 10 and Rebecca Connelly had four.
Madeline Tavares connected for 11 points for Bishop Mac while Shaelyn Mitchell had eight and Martina Gazzola gathered seven.
For the Lions and every other team in the league, just being back on the court in league play is a big plus over last year when all high school sports and other after-school activities were cancelled due to the pandemic.
“For me, I haven’t been this long without coaching for a while,” O’Rourke said. “For the girls it’s like something back to normal, something that’s going to bring the school back to normal. It brings the school back to normal because last year the kids would come to school, leave school, nothing after school, come to school, leave school, nothing after school. Now there’s energy in the air. The soul’s back in the school with all the extracurriculars. School’s fun, the regular school’s fun, but the soul of the school is the clubs, is the extracurriculars, is all the things the kids do and remember after school.”
He also had a good feeling when he looked at Bishop Mac’s bench and their head coach.
“It was great to coach against a former player I coached, Craig Valeriote,” O’Rourke said. “The team is well coached and will improve throughout the season for sure. Nothing better than seeing players you coached pay it forward to a younger generation.”
Guelph CVI 50 Orangeville 28
Acadia Tremain netted 15 points to lead GCVI while Nyssa Matthews had 11 and Nicole Carbone contributed nine.
Orangeville received 12 points from Olivia Stephenson, seven from Taya Williamson and five from Emma-Lise Genoe.
Centennial 63 Lourdes 21
Jocelyn Newby led Centennial with 14 points while Bodhana S. added 11.
Melia Tessel had six points for Lourdes and Alex Tessier collected four.
Guelph CVI 45 Orangeville 31
Scoring leaders not reported.
Bishop Macdonell 48 St. James 31
Sydney Richardson hit for a game-high 23 points for Bishop Mac while Hayley Clarke added five.
Arielle Balmero had 18 points for St. James while Tasha Simpson netted four.
Centennial 37 Lourdes 32
Jenna Davey’s 13 points led Centennial while Nica Borghese collected six.
Olivia Doucette had 16 points for Lourdes and McKenna Codrington followed with seven.
Ross 38 Centre Wellington 10
Bella Hillen gathered six points for Ross while Meave Hagerty, Sierra Curvan, Mara Sauyoo, Abby Blashuk, Nimrat Sandhu and Charlie Caper each had four.
Rachel Pegg led Centre Wellington’s scoring while Willow Green and her teammates turned in strong defensive efforts.
- Guelph Sports Journal