St. Thomas defeats Mississauga, 44-34, for Ontario Cup U14 girls' hoops gold
Sunday, April 27, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
LONDON, ON. - The St. Thomas Shock erased past memories with more desirable ones.
A 4-0 record carried the Shock to the Ontario Cup under-14 girls division six basketball championship, defeating the Mississauga Monarchs, 44-34, in the final, at Regina Mundi high school.
"Last year we didn't have a great provincial," Shock coach Andrew Nichol. "This year our whole focus was let's deliver and perform when we have too. It was good for them to have some redemption, come back and do well. We actually beat a couple of teams that beat us last year."
St. Thomas opened the eight team tournament, dropping the Kitchener-Waterloo Vipers, 40-16, before dumping Oakville Vytis, 50-28 and edging Nepean, 39-32.
Mississauga went 3-0 in the other pool.
Following a quiet first quarter of the final, with Mississauga leading just 4-1, the Shock went on a 12-0 run in the second frame, building a 21-9 lead by half-time.
The Monarchs responded following the recess break, cutting the Shock's lead in half, thanks to a trio of three point baskets. It was a two point game late in the third quarter.
By mid fourth quarter though, the Shock had surged back in front by a dozen points.
"We tried to get the momentum and sometimes it's hard to do when the crowd is screaming. They (Mississauga) were playing hard, tight defence," said Shock's Grayson Moore, on the opening quarter. "We scored a basket and then it was five in a row."
Moore led the Shock with 14 points, while Yana Saliu had 11, during a game that had an offensive surge from both sides.
"They pressed second half. I don't think they pressed the first half," said Moore. "That was flustering us a bit and they were getting some breakaways and they shot threes. They were coming closer, but then Abby (Wipfler), Manda (Johnson) and I shot. We made a couple of shots and calmed down."
Holding on at 28-26, the Shock went on a 10-1 run, including Stahlbaum completing a three point play.
Aggressive defence by the Shock overwhelmed the Monarchs at times.
"What impressed me the most was our ability to play defence," Nichol said. "Whether it was pressing or in this game we didn't press because this team was much faster, but we beat them on the half court defence. They had a hard time even getting shots off because our girls are so intense at playing defence and collapsing on them. (Shock players) really listened to what we asked them to do and they responded. We played this game 100 percent different than all of our other games. In the other three games, we pressed from beginning to end. This game we didn't press once."
After several years, Greg Moore finally gets to add gold to his coaching accolades.
"I've never won gold before at OBA, so I had a little extra thinking about how I really want to win this game," said Moore.
Both coaches saw the growth within the team and individual players.
"A couple of them (Grayson, Jaimie) had their games of the year," said coach Moore, who had praise for Saliu. "It's her first year playing competitive basketball and she went from having a difficult time playing, to being one of our best go to players. From the beginning to the end, just the calmness in the hands and the ability to finish, it's like night and day compared to where she was in September. She was a game changer on defence for us and as the year went on, offence too."
It is the second title within two months for Moore, Wipfler, Lily Ryder and Imogen Salin. The four players also helped the Mitchell Hepburn Mustangs win the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) AAA senior girls gold medal in early March.