Crusaders defeat visiting Braves in opening game

By Larry Moko

This is a special anniversary season for St. Mary Crusaders coach Rich Wesolowski and he hopes to celebrate in November by guiding his team to another provincial girls’ high school basketball championship.

“It’s my 20th year coaching basketball here at this school,” Wesolowski said Tuesday after St. Mary defeated the visiting St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves 70-19 in the opening game of the 2017 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic regular-season schedule.

The other HWCAA senior contest saw the St. Thomas More Knights top the Cathedral Gaels, 55-13.

St. Mary has captured 15 OFSAA gold medals in girls’ basketball since 1992 and Wesolowski has coached 11 of them. He also played for a St. Mary boys’ team that won an OFSAA hoops title in 1991.

“We’re looking for big things this year,” Wesolowski said. “We have enough returnees that, hopefully, we’ll be one of the better teams in the province. The end goal is to win OFSAA. That’s where we’re at. It’s a long way away, though.”

The Crusaders raced to a 32-10 halftime lead against the Braves and made it 55-18 heading into the fourth quarter.

Jayme Foreman and Taite Cleland paced the balanced St. Mary attack with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Tatyana Boskovic added nine and Madison Trpcic chipped in with eight.

“It was a pretty solid game and a great start to the season,” said Trpcic, a Grade 12 student. “We were getting back on defence which is something we struggle with.

“Once again we have a lot of guards. It’s going to be a lot of pushing the ball and fast breaks. That’s the kind of team we’ve always relied on … that’s been St. Mary’s strength.”

Trpcic and her older sister Mackenzie were members of various St. Mary squads that chalked up six consecutive OFSAA championships at either the AAA or AAAA levels from 2010-15.

“This year,” Trpcic said, “I want to become more of a leader. I also want to develop my game and become stronger.”

In addition to its 15 gold performances, St. Mary and Wesolowski have earned a couple of silver and bronze medals each at OFSAA.

“We’re getting the kinks out,” Wesolowski said of the team’s first game. “This is a new group. We’ve got some depth this year, too. We’re trying to figure out who is sort of going to lead the charge and who is going to do what for us. These are the things you try to figure out in the first bunch of games.”

St. Mary will be hosting its annual Tip-Off tournament from Sept. 29-Oct. 1. This year there will be eight teams instead of 16. That will be followed by St. Thomas More’s annual tournament in late October.

In the junior game at St. Mary, the Crusaders defeated Brebeuf, 36-26.

Source: Marnie Jadon

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