More, St. Mary off to strong provincial basketball starts

(Photo: Gerry Graham)

(Photo: Gerry Graham)

No sweat -so far – for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league’s representatives at the 2013 provincial girls’ high school basketball championships.

Two-time defending title holders at the provincial Quad A level, the top-seeded St. Thomas More Knights breezed to a pair of lopsided victories Thursday (Nov. 21) during opening day of the three-day showcase tournament in Windsor. More crushed the St. Peter Knights of Ottawa 80-21 before downing the Newmarket Raiders, 76-55.

In London, the St. Mary Crusaders began their run for a third-straight Ontario Triple A crown with a 76-20 decision over the Richview C.I. Saints of Toronto. The Crusaders, who lost to More in the recent HWCAA final, are also the No. 1 seed at OFSAA. Sixteen teams are entered.

“I thought we got good contributions from everyone on our roster,” Crusaders coach Nate McKibbon said. “It was a solid first effort. We had a few butterflies early, but we played better as the game went on.”

Amira Giannattasio and Mackenzie Trpcic netted 18 points apiece for St. Mary. Christina Buttenham added 16 and Hilary Hanaka had 12.

Next up for St. Mary is a game Friday morning against the host Regina Mundi Titans (seeded 16th). A win there would advance the Crusaders to a 5 p.m. quarter-final. Said McKibbon: “The competition gets stronger. But we’ll be ready for it.”

The Crusaders currently have an overall record this season of 29-3.

Hamilton’s other powerhouse, the St. Thomas More Knights, got 16 points in the opener by Kia Nurse. Abbey Clark contributed 13 and Eva DiGregorio chipped in with 11.

In its victory over Newmarket, St. Thomas More got 24 points by Grade 9 player Hailey Brown. Nurse tossed in 18 points while Clark added 12.

“Everybody is getting fairly equal minutes and everybody is contributing,” said Knights coach Blaize DiSabatino. “Again, our focus as a team is on playing tough defence. We know that’s what will hopefully take us the distance.”

The Knights face the eighth-seeded Sarnia Northern Vikings Friday at 11:30 a.m. That’s a quarter-final at Holy Names. The semi-finals for More would be later the same day at 6:30 at St. Anne.