Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, Nov. 17


 

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney

   


Senior Girls Basketball
Lady Tigers end perfect season with provincial 'AA' championship
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

St. Matthew seniors Brianna Thompson, Maddy Wakefield, Brooklyn McAlear and Libby Peters are all smiles after leading the Tigers to the OFSAA 'AA' championship on Saturday. Photo supplied

The St. Matthew Tigers are provincial high school champions after downing LaSalle Secondary School 40-35 in the gold medal game at the OFSAA 'AA' girls basketball championship in Kingsville on Saturday.

The sixth seed Lady Tigers led from wire to wire in beating the LaSalle Lancers who were seeded eighth going into the tournament. The win caps a perfect season in which they were 15-0 through regular and post season action.

After jumping out to an early 7-0 lead in Saturday's final, the Tigers maintained a five to eight point cushion until late in the second quarter when the Lancers managed to get to within three at 16-13, which is how the first half ended.

LaSalle would eventually get to within one point midway through the third quarter before the Tigers held them off with back-to-back three point shots to reestablish a seven point advantage.

A 5-0 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter would give the Tigers their biggest lead of the game before the Lancers answered back with a 5-0 run of their own to narrow the deficit to five with 3:30 left to go on the clock. That would be as close as they would get however as the Tigers held them at bay for the remainder of the game.

Maddy Wakefield and Brianna Thompson led the way on the scoresheet for the Tigers with 14 and 12 points respectively. Brittany Mason added six points, Brooklyn McAlear had five points and Elizabeth Peters added a key three-pointer.

Both teams had to upset higher seeded teams in the semifinals to make it into the final. St. Matt's upset the number two seed from Timmins and LaSalle knocked off the number four seed from Welland. Earlier in the tournament they knocked off the top-seeded John McGregor Panthers from Chatham.

The Tigers path to the championship game included wins over Bayside 73-50, J.M. Denison 60-23, St. Francis 55-50 and Theriault 50-42.

Although Thompson was selected as the tournament MVP, anyone of the five starters could have been given the honour, according to coach Rick Despatie.

"This was a real team win. We were the smallest team in the tournament by far, and we didn't really have a 'go to' player like a lot of the top seeded teams had," said Despatie. "If you look at the score sheets we had a different high scorer almost every game."

The key to the team's success is their familiarity with each other. Three of the five starters -- Wakefield, Peters, and Thompson -- have been paying together since Grade 7, while McAlear joined the team in Grade 9. All four girls will be graduating in the spring, a fact that wasn't lost on them heading into Saturday's gold medal game.

"Our goal all season was to win a medal at OFSAA. So heading into the final we knew we had a chance to win gold. We just had to work together and make it count and we did. To do it together in our last year is amazing," said Thompson.

The rest of the team includes fifth starter Brittany Mason as well as Cierra Carey, Alexis Yorke, Brianna Arichara, Megan Kardos and spare Hanna Dudley. Chris Wakefield is the Tigers' co-coach.

This is St. Matt's second OFSAA medal in girls basketball. The Tigers won a silver medal in the AAA championships in 1999. The school also won the boys AAA championship in 2009.

Team roster Brooklyn McAlear, Elizabeth Peters, Brianna Thompson, Maddie Wakefield, Brittany Mason, Alexis Yorke, Megan Kardos, Brianna Arichara and Cierra Carey. Coaches Rick Despatie and Chris Wakefield. Photo supplied

(Posted 11:30 a.m., Nov. 22)

 

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