By Larry Moko
The St. Thomas More Knights capped an outstanding season by winning gold at the 2019 OFSAA girls’ AAA high school basketball tournament in Mississauga.
“We finished the season with a 35-1 record,” More coach Tania DiCampli said following the award presentations at St. Francis Xavier Secondary School on Saturday night. “To be able to play at the level we consistently played at for 36 games … that’s pretty good. I can’t say enough about this team. They were solid. All 11 of them. I’m very proud of them.”
More captured the provincial title with a convincing 57-31 victory in the championship contest over the sixth-seeded Orillia Nighthawks.
The Knights had quarter leads of 18-13, 31-17 and 48-22 en route to their first OFSAA gold medal in the sport since 2013. Overall, it was More’s fifth championship banner (four from the now defunct AAAA division).
More featured a balanced scoring attack with Kaya Charles and Julia Chiarot leading the way with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Jessica Anziano contributed 11 points, Kristine Cooper chipped in with seven and the team’s lone final-year player, Trudi Vaughan, netted six. Daully Patterson and Ashley Rolo each connected on a three-point shot to round out the scoring for the Knights.
Allison Smith tossed in 11 points for Orillia, which ended up with a 29-9 record for the campaign.
“I thought both teams played classy, hard-nose basketball right to the end,” Orillia coach Mike Tutty said. “St. Thomas More is a load. They are good at every aspect of the game. And they are deep.
“We tried. We competed as well as we could. But we weren’t prepared today, at this stage in our development, to take on a giant like that.”
Anziano, who also plays at the club level for the Transway JUEL team, said the Knights were “super excited” about finishing on top at OFSAA.
“We came to the tournament as the first seed so there were expectations of our team,” she said. “I think we really handled it well.
“We owe a lot to our defence. That’s what got us the championship.”
The Orillia coach was impressed by More’s defensive schemes. “They contain the ball really well and they contain the shot really well,” he said. “They have a variety of stuff that they throw at you. They’re well-coached and well-trained kids. They’re a nice team to watch.”
According to Tully, the Nighthawks like to “get out and run” but the Knights “null and voided that pretty well.”
Said DiCampli: “I think the toughest challenge for teams that face us is our speed. The girls are just so fast.”
Other players for the Knights are Natalia Jara, Raquel DiPietro, Alisha Doornick and Isabella Tehrani. Emily Capretta accompanied the team to the three-day 16-team tournament but was unable to play this season while recovering from an ACL knee injury. “We’ll have Emily coming back in September for sure,” DiCampli said. “She’ll fill that 11th spot.”
More’s only loss this season was to a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league rival – the Bishop Tonnos Titans. Said DiCampli: “I think the loss to BT was good for us (34-33 on Oct. 10). It really made us come together. From that point forward it was one mission and one mission only.”
At the AA level of OFSAA girls’ basketball, the St. Mary Crusaders completed the tournament in Kingsville with one victory in four starts. In their final game Saturday, St. Mary dropped a 50-48 decision to the St. Paul Wolverines of Mississauga.
Source: Marnie Jadon