By Larry Moko
Someone new will wear the crown in Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior girls’ high school basketball this season.
That’s because the two-time defending champion St. John Henry Newman Cardinals bowed out with a 62-32 semifinal playoff loss to the St. Thomas More Knights Tuesday.
First-place More is now scheduled to face the second-place Bishop Tonnos Titans for the league title Thursday at 7.30 p.m. at the Cathedral High School gym. Tonnos took its semifinal, 59-40, over Cathedral’s Gaels.
“Our girls really executed in stopping Newman’s inside game,” More coach Tania DiCampli said. “We spent a lot of time at practice on how to double team and defend their impressive big (Jessica Paolini).
“As far as our shooting, we weren’t making a lot in the first half but we started hitting some clutch shots in the third quarter. That’s what widened the gap.”
The Knights’ 10-point halftime lead was reduced to seven early in the third quarter before the home team put its foot on the gas.
“They started lighting it up with 3s,” Newman coach Roy Milutinovic said. “They only had one 3 in the first half (finishing with seven).”
Aided by a couple of baskets off turnovers, the Knights went on a 10-0 run to pad their lead to 48-28 going into the fourth quarter. Said Milutinovic: “They outplayed us. They deserved the win.”
The leading scorers for More were Krissy Cooper, with 16 points, and Julia Chiarot, with 11. Trudi Vaughan chipped in with 10 while Jessica Anziano added nine and Alisha Doornick contributed eight.
For Newman, Ava Medic tossed in 11 points and Paolini had seven.
The More coach praised the all-around performance of Cooper, a Grade 10 student who, at the rep level, represented the Transway JUEL Prep team.
“Krissy is a go-getter,” DiCampli said. “She had a phenomenal game. She sees the floor well and has great anticipation for stealing the ball. She’s also great on the box outs and rebounds. Defensively, she’s one of our strongest players.”
Cooper, incidentally, was selected to the 2019 JUEL Prep League’s All Defensive Team.
“We were always communicating,” Cooper said of More’s victory over the visitors from Newman. “We had to step it up a bit tonight (in the absence of injured all-star Kaya Charles). I feel like we have a strong team.”
During the regular schedule, the 11-1 Knights also defeated the 7-5 fourth-place Cardinals twice, 47-24 and 61-41.
Tonnos and More split their regular-season meetings – 58-49 for More followed by a 34-33 decision for Tonnos.
Semifinal action at the junior level saw the Knights advance with a 54-40 victory over Tonnos and first-place Newman get past Cathedral, 46-29. That championship will take place Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Cathedral.
In the novice division, More topped Tonnos, 41-18, and the Bishop Ryan Celtics defeated Cathedral, 51-6. The novice final begins the championship tripleheader at Cathedral with a 3:30 p.m. tip off.
Source: Marnie Jadon