De­fence car­ries St. Mike’s to 36-12 win over North­west­ern in HP se­nior girls hoops fi­nal


St. Michael’s Syd­ney Miller, left, and North­west­ern’s Kelly Guy chase a loose ball in the fourth quar­ter of the Huron-Perth se­nior girls bas­ket­ball fi­nal Wed­nes­day at St. Mike’s. The War­riors won 36-12 and will host WOSSAA next Tues­day.

Steve Go­forth can’t choose which of the last eight con­sec­u­tive Huron Perth se­nior girls bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onships is his favourite.

It’s not a bad dilemma to have. “Ev­ery team is dif­fer­ent,” he said after a 36-12 win over North­west­ern Wed­nes­day on home court. “I said to these guys, some­times at the end of the year – not of­ten – you win and you’re kind of OK with it be­ing over. I said to them after let’s push this for a cou­ple more weeks be­cause they’re such a good group of kids. It’s been a most en­joy­able year, and I think part of it is when you’re go­ing to tour­na­ments with six kids you get to know the kids even more and get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of re­la­tion­ships. While small­ness isn’t good for some things, it’s been good for other rea­sons. They’re close knit. They’ve got­ten along and there have been no is­sues.”

St. Mike’s de­fen­sive dom­i­nance made up for early of­fen­sive is­sues. The War­riors led 2-0 after one quar­ter and took a 21-3 ad­van­tage into the break.

Go­forth cred­ited Kathryn Simmons and Ainsleigh We­dow for hold­ing North­west­ern’s Ta­tum James, Mor­gan Gof­far and Paige Gof­far to five points, but it took a team ef­fort to shut down a squad that av­er­aged 57.4 points in the reg­u­lar sea­son and scored 34 against the War­riors last week.

“When you get some time to plan and have played teams be­fore, you can do some things that make it bet­ter, and the girls de­fen­sively are very smart,” Go­forth said. “They’ve been here for three years. They know what we’re do­ing on de­fence, and they can make lit­tle changes to what we want to do to shut peo­ple down.”

Of­fen­sively, Joanna VanDeWalle had a game-high 16 for the War­riors. Jess Find­lay Robin­son scored 14, and Simmons added six.

“I felt like I had a good warm-up and then that trans­ferred over to the game and helped,” VanDeWalle said.

Huskies head coach Rob James also gave credit to the War­riors’ stingy de­fence, which he an­tic­i­pated would force North­west­ern to move the ball more. The Huskies ad­justed in the se­cond half and cre­ated bet­ter looks, but their shots wouldn’t drop.

“We were press­ing a lit­tle bit more, and both teams don’t have an (ex­pe­ri­enced) bench ... they’re all young, so we knew it was go­ing to be five-on-five for al­most the en­tire game. Ba­si­cally that’s what it was.”

It was a bit­ter­sweet end­ing for the Huskies, who had high ex­pec­ta­tions this sea­son. De­spite not hav­ing a few play­ers who were ex­pected to be with the team in 2018, North­west­ern went 8-1 and looked like a threat to the War­riors’ throne un­til it all fell apart in the con­fer­ence fi­nal.

The Huskies will likely re­turn three starters next sea­son with the ex­pected de­par­tures of Ta­tum James and Maria Gian­nakopou­los.

“We did al­right for what I thought we had,” coach James said. “We could have done bet­ter, but it is what it is.”

St. Mike’s will play at least two more games when it hosts WOSSAA next Tues­day. The War­riors face Lon­don South in the semi­fi­nal and, with a win, could see Mother Teresa in a re­match of last year’s fi­nal.

“To beat them our de­fence is go­ing to have to be on top of things,” Go­forth said. “They have more weapons than North­west­ern does.

“It’ll be a big task, but it’s our gym. I’ll play any­body in our gym one time again. That’s what I said to the girls last year. It’s one game.”

In the ju­nior girls fi­nal, F.E. Madill beat St. Mike’s 23-17. co­smith@post­


St. Michael’s Kathryn Simmons drives to the net past North­west­ern de­fend­ers Maria Gian­nakopou­los (24) and Mor­gan Gof­far dur­ing the Huron-Perth se­nior girls bas­ket­ball fi­nal Wed­nes­day at St. Mike’s. The War­riors won 36-12.


St. Mike’s se­nior girls bas­ket­ball coach Steve Go­forth em­braces Jess Find­lay Robin­son dur­ing the medal cer­e­mony after win­ning an eighth straight HuronPerth ti­tle.

North­west­ern’s Paige Gof­far drives past St. Mike’s Alexis Wilms in the se­cond quar­ter.

St. Mike’s Jess Find­lay Robin­son and North­west­ern’s Maria Gian­nakopou­los fight for po­si­tion after a free throw.

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