Coach Kevin Karl of the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves has a prediction about the 2014 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior girls’ high school basketball season.
“It’s going to be a Mary-More battle again,” Karl said after his team lost, 72-41, to the St. Mary Crusaders on Tuesday night (Sept. 16) to open the league schedule. “The rest of us will be fighting for the other positions. It will be a dogfight for third, fourth and fifth.”
St. Thomas More and St. Mary aren’t just the class of the HWCAA. No sir. They’re also dominant at the provincial level. Those Knights are in pursuit of a fourth consecutive Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations Quad A gold medal while the Crusaders are riding a streak of four straight OFSAA titles (the last three at the Triple A level after taking Quad A gold in 2010).
“More is very good again, too,” Karl said of the defending Hamilton Catholic champion Knights who also won their opener Tuesday, 72-20, over the Cathedral Gaels “They (Knights) came second at Western’s annual Purple and White Invitational tournament last weekend.”
St. Mary built leads of 16-10 40-20 and 54-35 against the visitors from Brebeuf.
“Offensively, we did a pretty good job of pushing the ball,” said Crusaders’ coach Rich Wesolowski. “And I thought the kids shot the ball better than expected.
“We also created some turnovers and scored off the turnovers.”
It was the first action of the season for St. Mary, while Brebeuf lost in the final of the recent eight-team St. Andre Bessette tournament in London. Karl, who lost his starting guards from last season, was impressed with the Crusaders pressure defence. “I was expecting pressure,” Karl said. “I knew we would have trouble defending against it. And St. Mary shot the lights out from the perimeter.”
Taylor Randall of the Crusaders led all scorers with 18 points — 14 in the first half. Hanna Hall added 10 points and Halle Bovell chipped in with nine for the winners.
Brebeuf got 14 points by versatile Crista Sebastiani, 13 by Jennifer Maki and nine by Polly Psarakis.
A three-point basket at the buzzer by Kristen Mullen of St. Mary completed the scoring in the first half.
“I thought it went well for a first game,” said Randall, a Grade 11 student. “It was nice to see how we played as a team.”
According to the St. Mary coach, Randall is a solid all-around player. Said Wesolowski: “She looks to shoot when it’s there and she looks to drive when it’s there. She usually makes good decisions.
“I just want her to try to play a little more athletic and to her limit.”
Randall, who tossed in three, three-point shots, says her goals are to improve her overall game and become more of a leader.
At Cathedral, the Knights raced to a 49-8 advantage at the intermission before coasting to the win. Khyah Clarke led More with 13 points. Hailey Brown had 12 and Jessica Guyatt contributed 11.
The other senior contest saw the Bishop Ryan Celtics top the visiting Cardinal Newman Cardinals, 46-38. Reece Mungar paced the Celtics with 19 points and teammate Mikayla Dalipe tossed in nine. For Newman, Monika Batinic scored 14 points. Jessica Ireland added eight.
While Karl offered his prediction about St. Mary, Wesolowski wasn’t as willing to make one.
“I’ll have to see with this group,” Wesolowski said. “I want to see who the leaders are. We don’t know those things yet. I’m learning myself. We set some goals as we go along.”
The annual 16-team St. Mary Tip-Off tournament featuring many of the best teams in Ontario will be held Sept. 26-28.