Crusaders Win 9th OFSAA Banner Since 1998 With 3A Win
Published by Michael Henry on November 29, 2011
On November 26, 2011, top ranked St Mary’s Crusaders of Hamilton, won the Ontario High School (OFSAA) 3A title, defeating Niagara Fall’s second ranked A N Myer Marauders, 49-30.
“One of our team goals at the start of the season was to win OFSAA gold” said Crusaders’ Head Coach, Richard Wesolowski. And recognizing that although they went in as the favorites, it was not going to be a walk in the park, he went on to yeild, “I knew we had a challenge ahead of us looking at some of the competition at 3A. A N Meyer had a perfect 30-0 record heading into OFSAA (including regular season and tournaments and additional games), Holy Cross gave us a super tough game in the SOSI tournament and there were other perennial top teams like Downsview & Sarnia Northern.”
Earning a Championship title is nothing new to Wesoloski and the St. Mary’s Crusaders. Since 1998, he has helped to guide the Crusaders to nine OFSAA Championships. So, he is no stranger in preparing his troops for what it takes to be victorious at the end of the season. “I think we did our best at setting bars and challenging players to get better.”
Getting better sometimes meant he had to prepared to get his team “battle-tested” for the provincials he has placed them against top competition. That included going 9-2 in what may be the toughest division in Ontario high school basketball. It also meant seeking additional games, ensuring they were up against some of the best they could find. “We had played two highly ranked CEGEP teams from Montreal in September. We beat Dawson College and lost by 3 to Vanier College. We also won three of the toughest tournaments in my opinion in the province,” Wesolowski said regarding teams his Crusaders had faced throughout the season.
Also to be blessed with some top talent doesn’t hurt either. Players like Seniors Jenna Bugiardini, who also played on Ontario’s provincial team, and April Coyne are quite likely to see additional University interest materialize. They were supported by a strong cast of sophomores in Hilary Hanaka, Christina Buttenham and Amira Giannattasio who will surely be the nucleus of returnees and potentially additional banners for years to come.
Regardless of the talent on any squad, the Coach still has to get them to buy into a system. Besides the games targetted at making is team better, it also meant rigorous training and personal sacrifice. Wesolowski explained he was able to get them to see the seeds of discipline, would later lead to the fruit of success. “The girls understand that if they work harder in practice than any other team and come in on their own time for individual workouts they are putting themselves in the best possible position to attain that goal. On a daily basis we do not talk about our OFSAA goal, we just try to focus on the process of getting better as a team and individuals.”
Of their accomplishment, Wesolowski declared proudly “I think the girls played with poise and determination to bring the gold medal home. To see these kind of results, I can say was a total team effort.”