Mother Teresa Wins OFSAA 4A Bronze
Published by Michael Henry on November 28, 2011
In a battle that saw the 2nd ranked Mother Teresa Spartans and the 4th ranked Waterloo Vikings, the Spartans prevailed in a close 62-60 final to claim OFSAA (Ontario High School) 4A Bronze.
The Spartans went 9-1 in league play prior to winning their district and the Western Ontario (WOSSAA) berth to OFSAA and earning the Championships’ second seed. But in order for them to win this game and claim the Bronze medal, they would need to get past the fourth seeded Vikings who were just as impressive coming out of the Central Western (CWOSSAA) area after going through the regular season with a record of 14-0. And with both these teams doing equally as well winning three games and losing only in their semi-final game during these championships, things set up well for a close game between these two teams that were facing each other for the first time this year.
“We were familiar with Waterloo, we hadn’t played them but we had seen them, we knew that we were obviously going to have to contain Lindsay Lessard and their Guards. Their Guards are quick and athletic. So we basically went into a matchup situation where we knew we had to be disciplined and outwork their team” said Spartan Coach, Jami Pizzari
This was a see-saw affair right from the 1st Quarter, which at the end of it saw the scorboard read 16-14 in favor of the Vikings. Despite the close score at this point, the Spartans didn’t do themselves any favors. They fell into foul trouble early and at one point were out-fouling Waterloo by a 7-1 margin to start off the game. And, although their original game plan of containing Lessard, she was still able to score 11 points in the first half. In their favour however was being able to deal Waterloo a blow by drawing a third foul from Alex Klein midway through the 2nd Quarter, forcing her to the bench.
The Vikings were finding some success with penetrating drives. Yet, the Spartans were able to keep pace with their long distance shooting. They nailed five 3-pointers including 2 by Maddy Edwards and 2 also by Rebecca Harnsworth who went on to score 10 in the first half.
Going into the second half, Coach Pizzari wanted to make sure his team used a lot more self control on defense, knowing that it was anybody’s game after it was knotted up at 26 at halftime. “The emphasis was on being disciplined,” he said when discussing the talk with his team on second half strategy. “Our foul situation was awful in the first half, and that put us really at a disadvantage. We had three kids with three fouls a couple kids with two, so we really focused on ball contain and eliminating the hand check fouls on the perimeter.”
His team did executed that game plan in the second half and although no team was leading by more than 4 points in the third, the Spartans were doing a better job of staying away from earning additional fouls. It was around this time that Regan Duff’s play became increasingly became more impactful on the game. On defense, she was forcing key turnovers with the pressure she was placing on the Waterloo Guards. On the offensive end, Duff’s quick first step proved to be a problem for the Vikings as they ended up sending her to the line 7 times in the second half. Duff converted on 6 of those attempts and provided a huge spark for her team. “Every team needs a kid when things arent going so good, that will say, ‘Get on my back. I’ll carry you for the next three or four minutes. Just follow me, everything will be okay’, and she’s that kid”, her coach said glowingly.
In the 4th Quarter, although never really out of it, Waterloo Vikings just couldn’t seem to get over the hump as the Mother Teresa defense allowed nothing easy, making the Vikings earn each bucket. The Spartans didn’t seem to really be rattled, even after what could have been a pivotal moment in the 4th. With the score 54-48, Lessard was fouled as she drained a 3-pointer and then proceeded to convert for the four-point play, bringing Waterloo within two points. The Spartans proceeded to march right down the court and they ended up drawing an ‘and one’ play of their own, killing any momentum Waterloo was hoping to gain.
“We were, step quicker on defense” Coach Pizzari said as a key to how they were able to be successful in the 2nd half, especially the 4th Quarter. “Ball contain really helped us. Which forced them into some bad shots, which led to some transitions and some easy buckets for us, and I think that was a part of the momentum change which left them a little bit frustrated.”
In the end, the Mother Teresa Spartans were able to shut the door on any Waterloo Viking comeback in a tight game that didn’t see either team lead by more than 8 points.
Of Duff and her game high 27 points, Coach Pizzari couldn’t say enough. ”She’s done that on a number of occaissions for us in the biggest of games. She’s a big game player, so were very proud of her.”
Julia Tennant and Rebecca Harnsworth also contributed 11 points each in the Spartans Bronze medal win. For the Vikings, Lindsay Lessard scored 17 points and Lindsay Taylor scored 12.