GETTING READY FOR WOSSAA
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.