With just seven players the Mitchell Hepburn Mustangs won the TVDSB AAA
girls' basketball championship defeating Northridge, 25-15, in the final
Saturday, March 2, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
LONDON, ON. - Following game one, the majority would have sent these horse's hopes to the glue factory.
Instead of being put down, the Mitchell Hepburn Mustangs galloped to the gold medal at Thames Valley District School Board Valley girls' basketball championship, defeating London Northridge, 25-15, in the AAA final, at Oakridge Secondary School.
With only eight players to start the two day tournament, the Mustangs had two players go down with ankle injuries, in their opening game, a 46-16 dunking of London Princess Elizabeth.
The Mustangs lost Abby Wipfler to a broken ankle, but Grayson Moore returned for the Mustangs' 25-23 squeaker over London Emily Carr.
"We thought, I don't know how we're going to do, but we ended up pulling through," said Moore, who scored a game high 12 points in the final. "Our mindset was like I don't know how this is going to go but we'll go as a team and hope for it. We beat Emily Carr so we thought we definitely could win the final."
The Mustangs jumped out to a 16-1 lead by half-time over Northridge, with an aggressive defence causing multiple turnovers.
"We worked really hard with only seven players. We were concerned (pre-game) because we knew they (Northridge) like to play fast and we had to slow it down. At the end, we were all really excited," said Lily Ryder, who scored eight points against Northridge. "We played them last year at Valleys and lost and it was not a good experience. We wanted to come back and really push for it."
A year ago, the Mustangs lost the bronze medal game to Northridge. It is back to back season that an Elgin County team has won AAA girls, as the Summer's Corners Sabres on gold in 2018.
Mitchell Hepburn completes an undefeated season, including winning the Chippawa and Clarke Road tournaments.
"Just a magical season," Mustangs' coach Larry Westaway said. "It feels amazing with such a great group of girls. The one thing I loved about it was we were such a team. We stuck together, whether it was injuries or whatever. I saw a look in their eyes that I knew they were going to win. That's not over confidence. That's just them. They weren't going to let anything get in their way. They played so hard and I couldn't be prouder of this group of girls."
A majority of the team is graduating this year and many of the players have indicated they are heading to Parkside Collegiate Institute for their high school years.
"Lucky Parkside," Westaway said. "They'll going to have a good team."
Around the Valley
The Mustangs' boys finished fourth at Valleys, falling in the bronze medal game to Eagle Heights, 29-16. Davenport took the AAA consolation title, dumping Princess Elizabeth, 48-18.
The Trudeau Voyageurs' girls, also in the AAA loop, lost 20-13 to Northridge, in their opening game and 15-11 to London Jack Chambers.
At the girls' AA tournament, the Callwood Cobras lost to Glen Cairn, 31-14 and Lord Roberts, 26-12.
In single-A girls' action, the New Sarum Huskies were the consolation winners, defeating Lord Elgin, 28-17.