Knights in final, Crusaders a step away

(Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

(Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

Both Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association entries remain in the hunt for gold after Day 2 of the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations girls’ high school basketball championships.

The two-time defending champion St. Thomas More Knights advanced to the Quad A gold-medal game with two wins on Friday (Nov. 22) in Windsor. The Knights defeated Sarnia’s Northern Vikings 60-36 in a quarter-final before topping the fifth-seeded Pickering Trojans 60-41 in a semi-final.

The gold-medal contest is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 23) at St. Anne. Top-seeded More’s opponent will be Blessed Pope John Paul II of Scarborough. The Panthers are seeded second.

“Blessed Pope John Paul II is a very tall, athletic team,” said More coach Blaize DiSabatino. “They get the ball inside a lot to the basket. So we’ll really have to focus on our inside stuff. We match up pretty well against them because we have some height as well.”

The Panthers earned their spot in the championship game with a 42-34 semi-final victory over the Sarnia St. Pat’s Fighting Irish.

In the semi, University of Connecticut-bound guard Kia Nurse tossed in 25 points for the Knights. Abbey Clark and Erin Burns added 10 points apiece. And in the morning contest, Nurse and Clark netted 18 and 10 points, respectively.

“Our team is committed to playing tough, smart defence,” DiSabatino said. “It was a total team performance in both of our games today. Outstanding. We’re getting some easy offence off of our defence.

“We’re doing the little things like boxing out, good shot selection and getting the ball to the basket. The girls are executing, working hard and really taking care of business.”

In London, the St. Mary Crusaders won twice on Friday to advance to a semi-final Saturday at noon at Regina Mundi. The opponent for the two-time defending champions and top seeds from Hamilton will be the No. 4 seeded St. Thomas Aquinas Flames of London.

“Aquinas has a big player in the middle,” Crusaders’ coach Nate McKibbon said. “They really try to get the ball inside. And they play a little zone defence.”

The Crusaders crushed the host Regina Mundi Titans 80-26 on Friday and later in the day got past the ninth-seeded Orillia District Blues, 49-24.

“I’m feeling good about (Saturday),” said McKibbon. “Our girls have been here before (going for a fourth straight provincial gold medal). They are battle tested. I trust them in a big game until they prove me otherwise.”

Mackenzie Trpcic had a total of 34 points in the two Friday games for St. Mary. Amira Giannattasio, with 12 points, and Taylor Randall, with 10, were the other leading scorers against the Titans.

Against Orillia District, Trpcic tossed in 15 and Christina Buttenham had 14.

McKibbon said the Crusaders got off to fast starts in both contests but the Blues were able to battle back.

“They (Orillia District) definitely made it difficult. I think it was a bit closer than the score indicated. But at this point, it’s just win and move on. Hopefully we have our best games tomorrow.”

The Triple A gold-medal match is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 at Regina Mundi.