That turned out to be a determining factor in St. Thomas More’s 43-38 senior girls’ high school basketball victory over the Celtics at the Bishop Ryan gym Thursday (Sept. 29).
With that outcome, the Knights improved to 4-0 in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association standings while the Celtics slipped to 2-1.
“We used our size to our advantage,” More coach Blaize DiSabatino said. “Our bigs got some crucial rebounds at the end.”
The Celtics led 10-8 entering the second quarter and tied the score at 35s in the evenly-matched contest on Christina Cuicani’s three-point basket with just over six minutes left in the fourth.
However, Celina Elliott grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on the putback with one minute 30 seconds remaining to stretch More’s lead to six points and Marina Floris hauled in another key offensive board off a missed foul shot with 34 seconds on the clock to seal the victory.
“Our seniors on the floor had great composure,” DiSabatino said. “They took care of business when it counted.”
The top scorers for the Knights were Olivia Ciaglia, with 15 points, Serena Vitello, with eight, and Floris, with six.
For the Celtics, Lauren DiPietro led the way with 12 points. Alex Verboom chipped in with 10 and Cuicani contributed six.
“Most teams are bigger than us … we’re kind of used to it,” Celtics coach Kevin Daly said. “We try to use our speed and quickness to overcome another team’s size.”
Bishop Ryan would be able to field a taller starting lineup if Reece Mungar – who watched the game from the bench — was available. The talented 6-foot veteran forward has yet to play this season because of an ankle sprain she suffered in July.
“She is a great player,” Daly said of Mungar. “She already has a bunch of U.S. schools offering her scholarships.
“Reece is practising now. So she’s not too far away. We’re waiting for her to be 100 per cent. Hopefully, it will be soon. We’re not making excuses. We’ll try and win without her. We’ll do our best while she’s not here.”
According to DiSabatino, the Celtics are fast and athletic.
“They like to run,” she said. “They like to get up in your face. We had some trouble with that. There were times when it was fairly scrappy out there.”
DiSabatino said she wants the Knights to work on getting better every game. “We don’t necessarily have one or two people that are scorers or one or two people that are defenders,” she said. “We work as a team. Every time we go out there, everyone has to do their job and contribute.”
DiSabatino coached a Hamilton Mountain squad to a recent Ontario Summer Games girls’ basketball championship.
“They are a very good team,” Daly said of the Knights. “But it’s a long season. We know playoffs are when the real games start. We hope to get better and beat teams like that.”
The Knights and defending-champion St. Mary Crusaders are the only undefeated teams in the HWCAA.