Crusaders survive Knights charge to repeat junior basketball title


The St. Mary Crusaders ‘stole’ a victory from the St. Thomas More Knights.

At the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association junior girls’ high school basketball final, St. Mary used three steals on More’s last three possessions to lock up the win. The final score was 34-30 at McMaster’s Burridge Gym.

St. Mary Crusaders won the junior girls' basketball title. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

St. Mary Crusaders won the junior girls’ basketball title. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

Laura Bozzo drained a three-point shot for first-place St. Thomas More to pull the Knights to within one point of the lead (31-30) with two minutes, 25 seconds remaining. However, point guard Hanna Hall of St. Mary stole a pass and went coast-to-coast for the layup with 1:15 left. That was followed by Felicia Spano’s steal and resulting free-throw basket with 14 seconds on the clock.

And to prevent any miracle comebacks, Hailey Summers made the final steal 4.4 seconds from the final buzzer.

More (12-0) defeated the second-place Crusaders (9-3) in both of their regular-season meetings, 38-34 and 42-40.

Point guard Hanna Hall paced St. Mary with 13 points. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

Point guard Hanna Hall paced St. Mary with 13 points. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

“It came down to that last push we had,” said Hall, a Team Ontario member from the Hamilton Transway club. “They had a run on us (7-0). We weren’t going to let go. We got that final stop. That’s what we needed to win.”

Hall led all scorers with 13 points. Melina Villata Smith added six points for the winners and Spano had five.

Kayah Clarke and Bozzo paced the Knights with eight points each. Celina Elliott contributed six and Serena Vitello scored five.

“Everyone was really hyped,” Hall said. “It was hard to find composure. But we pulled it together.”

It was the second straight title for the St. Mary juniors.

St. Thomas More's Laura Bozzo drained a three-point shot, bringing St. Thomas More within one point of the lead.  (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

St. Thomas More’s Laura Bozzo drained a three-point shot, bringing St. Thomas More within one point of the lead. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

Cardinals take Midget Final

In the midget final, the Cardinal Newman Cardinals capped an undefeated season with 54-24 victory over St. Mary. Newman led only 6-4 at the end of the first quarter before going on a 13-0 run early in the second quarter.

The Cardinals carried a 25-10 lead into the third quarter and cruised to a 41-15 advantage at three quarters.

“They (Newman) had no coach and were ready to pull the plug on the season,” said Jodi Pomerleau who volunteered to do double duty as both the head coach of the Cardinals senior and midget teams. “After the first practice, I knew we had something special.”

Forwards Nicole Badzioch and Emerance Kitenge paced the Newman offence with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Aly Cusimano contributed most of the outside shooting threat, draining nine points.

Sydney Graper was the leading scorer for St. Mary. Fifteen of her 17 points came from the free-throw line.

“We’ve got a couple of big posts and some good quick guards,” Pomerleau said. “And we’ve got a bench that can go in there for some solid minutes to give the starters a break.”

Newman recently had a much easier semi-final than the Crusaders. The Cardinals trounced the Brebeuf Braves, 47-5, while the second-place Crusaders edged the St. Thomas More Knights, 42-38.