By Larry Moko
The St. Thomas More Knights stretched their overall undefeated streak to 13 games while capturing their second consecutive senior girls’ high school basketball tournament on the weekend.
One week after taking top honours in London at the Western University tournament, More convincingly defeated Ottawa’s Glebe Gryphons, 64-29, to win the inaugural Michele Vesprini-Jordan Cancer Research Classic.
Cathedral and Bishop Tonnos of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association co-hosted the 16-team event.
“I thought we performed amazingly well tonight,” More assistant coach Ralph Bozzo said. “Our defence was top notch. We moved the ball very well and we were unselfish on offence.
“We got to the rim and made our shots. We were firing on all cylinders.”
Leading the way for the Knights was Grade 11 student Julia Chiarot who was named tournament Most Valuable Player (last week she and teammate Kaya Charles were co-recipients of the MVP award). Chiarot scored a game-high 16 points against Glebe and stood out with her assist-making and ball-theft prowess.
Bozzo describes Chiarot as being a versatile and complete player who always gives full effort on the court.
“If we ask her to shoot and take the ball up, she can do that. If we ask her to play in the post she’ll get rebounds and do that as well. She played an unbelievable game at both ends of the floor.”
The Knights, who led 21-5, 35-15 and 55-20 at the quarter breaks, also got 10 points apiece by Jessica Anziano and Trudi Vaughan. Charles added nine.
Bozzo said the Vesprini-Jordan tournament with its emphasis on cancer awareness served as an inspiration for Chiarot and More coach Tania DiCampli. That’s because Chiarot’s mother, Claudia, passed away from breast cancer in 2014. Claudia was DiCampli’s sister.
“I think it really propelled Julia and coach Tania to that next level of wanting to win and playing hard,” Bozzo said.
Michele Vesprini, Bozzo, DiCampli, Claudia Chiarot and Julia’s father, Gord, all were classmates at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School – Class of 1990.
When asked if the Hamilton tournament had special significance to her, Chiarot said: “Yes, of course. It’s always nice to see people helping the cause.”
The Glebe team, on arrival, said it would donate $1 for every point it scored.
Vesprini-Jordan, who taught and coached at Cathedral for 18 years, is a breast cancer survivor. She currently teaches at St. Thomas More. As a women’s university basketball player at Western she graduated as that school’s all-time career scoring leader.
In More’s 47-46 semifinal victory over Tonnos, Kristine Cooper had 13 points including a three-point basket with 10 seconds remaining to pull the Knights into the lead.
Quarter-final scores were: More 74 Oakville Holy Trinity 31; Bishop Tonnos 49 Orillia 30; Glebe 55 Cathedral 36; St. Catharines Churchill 67 Westdale 58. Glebe then reached the final with a 57-39 decision over Churchill.
Trudi Vaughan and Charles were named to the all-star team along with Teresa Donato of Glebe and Bishop Tonnos’s duo of Deanna Mataseje and Jacqueline Urban.
Source: Marnie Jadon