St. Mary Crusaders look to past for brighter future

(Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)Maybe a little magic from 1991 will rub off on this year’s St. Mary Crusaders.

That was the season – with Joe Raso as the coach and players such as Antony Randall, Jamie Girolametto and Rich Wesolowski in the lineup – that St. Mary won the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations boys’ high school basketball championship.

Wesolowski has since gone on to coach St. Mary girls’ teams who, under his guidance, have captured a record 12 OFSAA titles.

Randall – a custodian at the school – is currently in his first year as head coach of the St. Mary senior boys’ basketball team. And sitting beside him on the bench at Cardinal Newman Thursday (Dec. 18) was Girolametto, a physical education teacher at St. Mary.

The Crusaders were in tough against the three-time defending Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association champions, however, losing 63-36. It was St. Mary’s sixth loss in as many starts. Newman, with the win, improved its record to 4-2.

“If the guys play with the type of dedication and passion that Antony showed as a player and now as a coach, this team has a chance,” Girolametto said. “They have to believe in themselves.”

Girolametto, head coach of the Redeemer Royals of the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association, praised the effort of Randall, who left shortly after the final buzzer to return to work to finish his afternoon shift.

“I give him a lot of credit,” Girolametto said. “He comes into work two hours early just to donate his time for these guys. I think it’s remarkable.”

Randall played at Lakehead University. He also has a club coaching background at Hamilton Transway. His daughter, Ashley, graduated from St. Mary and played university ball at Lakehead, while his son, Mackenzie, currently is a member of the Redeemer Royals. Daughter Taylor, is in Grade 11 and plays for the five-time defending OFSAA champion Crusaders.

Newman shot well from three-point range – connecting on 10 — en route to the victory. Jake Marquette led the Cardinals with 14 points. Point guard Tyler Brown and Goran Veselinovic added 13 apiece while centre Tyrell Hebert chipped in with 12.

Centre Shawn Carey replied with 16 points for the Crusaders, who trailed 21-9, 35-15 and 49-23 at the quarter breaks.

“We shared the ball well and executed the way we’re supposed to,” said Newman coach Jeff Joseph. “This was a big bounce-back game for us after getting manhandled by Cathedral (70-47 earlier in the week). We focused on what we had to do and we did it well.”

Joseph said Veselinovic – a Grade 11 student — stepped up with a solid performance after the disappointing loss to the second-place Gaels.

“I think he’s definitely a next-level player,” Joseph said of Veselinovic, who missed much of last season with an injury after transferring from Glendale. He was then ineligible to participate for Newman at OFSAA.

“The week before I was eligible to play I tore my quad and missed two months after that,” Veselinovic said of his 2013-14 campaign.

Joseph said Veselinovic has to be a big part of the team if the Cardinals are to contend for the HWCAA championship. Newman was hard hit with the loss of three potential starters this season – one to an ACL tear and two who decided to go to prep school.

Said Joseph: “We lost a lot from last year. We don’t have a lot of depth and we’re a lot younger than we were. Our goal is to finish in the top four.”

League play resumes on Jan. 6.

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