Lost to top seeded Arnprior the eventual AA girls hoops silver medalist
November 26, 2023
By Rob J. Ross
GUELPH, Ont. - It is an unfortunate case of deja vu.
In back to back years, the East Elgin Eagles' girls basketball season ends in the OFSAA quarterfinals against the top seeded team.
Top ranked Arnprior Rapids sent the Eagles home, with a 50-25 win at OFSAA double-A basketball Friday at Our Lady of Lourdes high school.
"There was zero quit in the girls. They left it on the court," Eagles coach Sean Beilhartz said. "You could see the exhaustion on their faces."
East Elgin led 6-4 early, but a 10-0 run gave Arnprior a 14-6 lead after one quarter. The Eagles battled back to within two points, at 14-12, but the Rapids ended the first half on a 7-2 run.
The Rapids took control of the game in third quarter, outscoring the Eagles, 21-5. Naomi Davey, who scored a game high 21 points for Arnprior, 11 during the third frame, was force under the hoop.
"She was the number one reason. We couldn't stop her. We tried everything. She played her position very well," said Beilhartz.
Two players who could have matched Davey were watching from the bench in street clothes. Six-foot three sisters Brooke and Ainsley Preszcator, The Eagles twin towers were out due to injuries.
Ainsley missed the entire tournament with a concussion, while Brooke suffered a sprained ankle in the Eagles' 40-26 win against EL Crossley Friday morning.
"Having those two girls. Years down the road, I'll be thinking of this game and going, what if," said Beilhartz. "I really feel we matched up quite well with them, especially since their inside game was so important to their success."
Lily Allen had eight points for the Eagles against Arnprior, and Ellery Beilhartz, seven.
"Sadly, we encountered quite a few injuries in our second game, which meant we were playing without a few key starters," said Ellery Beilhartz. "I truly believe if we were to re-play that team (Arnprior) without our injuries, I think we could beat them. The score would've been a lot closer. Nonetheless, we played the cards we were dealt and gave it everything we had."
A year ago, the Eagles lost the quarterfinal to top seeded St. Catharines Sir Winston Churchill, who went on to win the provincial title.
Arnprior lost the gold medal game, 69-53, to Kings Christian Collegiate, from Oakville, the Rapids' first loss this season.
At OFSAA in back to back years, the Eagles' only losses were to the 2022 champ and 2023 silver medalist.
"Being part of the first girls basketball team at our school to ever go back to back at OFSAA, is such an amazing accomplishment and being able to do it with not only my friends, but with family (dad is coach Sean Beilhartz and assistant coach Katie Knight), was the cherry on top," said Ellery. "I loved my OFSAA experience I had a lot of fun with this team both on and off the court."
East won the TVRA South-East division for a fourth consecutive season this year, before capturing the WOSSAA crown.
"It's an accomplishment. You got to have the horses," said coach Beilhartz. "The girls did a great job adjusting to the different tactics that we were trying to incorporate throughout the year."
The Eagles opened this year's provincial championship defeating North York McGuigan, 42-23. Lily Allen with four three pointers and Brooke Preszcator, both had 12 points for the Eagles, while Ellery Beilhartz had eight points and Annelise Borm, six.
Ellery led the Eagles against Crossley, scoring 16 points, including a trio of three pointers. Taryn Sullivan and Brooke before her injury, each put in eight points.
The Arnprior game was the final one as head coach for Beilhartz, who is stepping away after 24 years coaching.
"When the buzzer went off, I gave my daughter a hug and knew it was the right decision," coach said. "The highlight has been the friendships I made. That has been the best part, bar none. The wins are always nice, but it's about those experiences with those kids. This is a great end to my contributions to East Elgin basketball."
Coach Beilhartz guided teams to OFSAA four times, once with Westminster secondary school, and three times with the Eagles, the first when assistant coach Katie Knight was a player in 2008.
Knight herself was part of two Eagles' teams that went to OFSAA, the best a fourth place in 2006.
"It's definitely been a long run. My dad has been coaching me forever," said Ellery. "Not only has he coached me in basketball, but also in soccer as well. I've pretty much always been a coaches kid and that title definitely comes with lots of stereotypes and difficulties. This journey hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows as there has been many disagreements along the way. But he sees my potential and always pushes me to be better. I'm very thankful for everything he has done for me and am very happy that we were able to be one of the top eight schools in all of Ontario one last time."
Dad and daughter will always have memories of her high school hoops career.
"That's a special thing for her and I and my wife Melissa," coach Beilhartz said. "Especially because of the influence they (players, co-coaches) had on my own daughter, helping her become a strong young lady."
Oakville Kings Christian defeated Arnprior, 69-53, for the gold medal, after dethroning St. Catharines Winston Churchill, the 2022 champions, in the semifinals, 56-49.
Winston Churchill took home the bronze medal, defeating Sudbury Lo-Ellen Park, 53-47.
Fonthill EL Crossley won the consolation bracket.
At triple-A OFSAA in Hamilton, London Mother Teresa, the WOSSAA champs, lost to silver medalist Scarborough John Newman, 49-44, in quarterfinal action.
Hamilton Cathedral won a third consecutive OFSAA.
Mitchell, WOSSAA's single-A champ, also lost in the quarterfinals, falling to Breslau Woodland Christian. Ottawa Osgoode District won OFSAA single-A gold.
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