It was a memorable sendoff to OFSAA for the St. Mary Crusaders.
St. Mary qualified for the 2013 Ontario girls’ Triple A high school basketball tournament, to be held in London, with a 66-29 victory over Bolton’s St. Michael Thunder on Friday (Nov. 15) at the Crusader’s gym.
St. Michael was a challenger from the Region of Peel.
“It was a great way to cap off our home schedule,” said Crusaders’ coach Nate McKibbon. “A beautiful way for us to end our year here in Hamilton and set us up for an OFSAA run next week.
“And since it was our last game, we did a ceremony for our four girls who will be graduating (Hilary Hanaka, Christina Buttenham, Amira Giannattasio and Ally Brandt).”
The Crusaders are seeking a fourth consecutive Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations gold medal (three at Triple A following their victory at the Quad A level in 2010). This year’s provincial finals are scheduled from Nov. 21-23. The gyms for the tournament are located at Regina Mundi Catholic College and Saint Andre Bessette Catholic High School.
Buttenham led the Crusaders charge with 23 points, while Hilary Hanaka and Mackenzie Trpcic contributed 11 apiece.
Arianna Pirovic and Payton Deibert replied with 13 and eight points, respectively, for the visitors.
“It really was a team effort,” McKibbon said. “Everyone played hard and got pretty much equal playing time. I was very pleased with what I saw.”
The Thunder was held to 11 points in the first half.
The Crusaders are attempting to become the first school at the Triple A or Quad A level to capture four straight OFSAA girls’ basketball championships. Said McKibbon: “I know the girls have put in the proper amount of work. They have really stayed diligent with their focus and intensity all year. I think they are poised to play extremely well at OFSAA. If we play our best basketball we’re going to be awfully tough to beat.”