Irish steal BT’s Thunder
Nicole Pullar began playing basketball at a very young age but decided last year to hit the pause button.
“It was because of school,” the 17-year old said. “I had been told that Grade 11 is your hardest year but Grade 12 is easier and I have a couple of spares. I thought I would play.”
Her return to the Notre Dame senior girls basketball squad has been a welcome addition. She proved her value Wednesday night. Playing against the Blessed Trinity Thunder in the championship quarter-finals of the Second Annual BPSN Girls Basketball Tournament at Churchill, she netted 17 points to help her team record a 63-32 triumph.
“She is incredibly smooth,” Notre Dame head coach Pat O’Leary said. “She would say her shot is not where she wants it to be but she brings such calm to our team. She was shooting the ball better tonight and every game she continues to get better and better.”
Pullar, who played travel basketball until Grade 9, agreed she missed the sport.
“My dad (Mike) coached me and I have always enjoyed watching March Madness and stuff.”
She returned to the sport at the urging of teammate Emma Hemphill, who came over to Notre Dame this year from Holy Cross.
“I played with her my whole life and she kept telling me I had to play. She convinced me.”
Once she was back on the court, she rekindled her passion for hoops.
“I was shooting a little bit with my with dad in the summer and I really enjoyed it. I missed the game atmosphere.”
That atmosphere was especially evident in her team’s opening game at Holy Cross.
“They had a buyout and it was super loud. I missed that.”
She is working her way back to being the player she used to be.
“My handle isn’t overly tight and my shots are hit or miss,” she said. “I just have to have the mentality that they are going in.”
She is having a lot of fun.
“Practices and games are just awesome.”
Notre Dame used a balanced scoring approach to knock off Blessed Trinity.
“They all did a good job and I really like that about our team,” O’Leary said. “We have different players scoring every night.”
O’Leary likes the team he has this year.
“We have girls from Grade 12 to Grade 9 playing and they have gelled really well. They get along really well, they have fun and they work hard. It has been a lot of fun for me.”
The Thunder struggled from the start with turnovers and a lack of finish.
“That was a tough one,” BT head coach Gabe Diadamo said. “We missed a lot of shots but their defence was very good and I give them a lot of credit. They played aggressive defensively and we struggled to spread the floor to counteract that pressure. There were a lot of turnovers.”
The good thing for the Thunder is that it is early in the season.
“It is fine-tuning. We have a lot of young players and everyone on the bench is in Grade 9. It is getting more experience, playing in more tournaments and I think we will be able to put something together for the end of the season.
Irish 63 Thunder 32
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Notre Dame’s Nicole Pullar with 17 points.
For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Emma Hemphill 21; Pullar 17; Ava DeChellis 11; Abbey Grande 7; Elyse Carmichael 2; Olivia Bittman 2; Kyra diGaetano 2; Lila DiPietro 2.
For the Blessed Trinity Thunder: Maggie Vukojev 18; Brianna Davis 8; Alana Meester 4; Nadia Talukdar 1; Mackenna Corveti 1.
Up next: Consolation semifinals Thursday at Governor Simcoe: Smithville Christian vs. Saint Francis at 2:30 p.m. and Thorold vs. E.L. Crossley at 4 p.m. Championship semifinals Thursday at Governor Simcoe: Churchill vs. Eden at 5:30 p.m. and Myer vs. Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m.
CYCLONE 36 CHURCHILL JUNIORS 19
Kaitlyn Brophy scored 17 points to lead the E.L. Crossley Cyclone to a 36-19 victory over the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs junior team in consolation quarter-final play Wednesday in the Second Annual BPSN Girls Basketball Tournament at Churchill.
Also scoring for the Cyclone were Addison Falardeno (9), Amelia Siolkowski (6), L’Jayah Simmonds (2) and Sarah Lowry (2).
Netting points for the Bulldogs were: Sarah Hardy (13), Shannen Short (4) and Kenndy Krause (2).
The tournament is made possible with the help of primary sponsors, Women Networking in Sports of Niagara and Tora Inc., and secondary sponsors, Alltech Automotive, St. Catharines CYO Basketball, Pelham Panthers basketball, Niagara Falls Red Raiders basketball, Niagara Rangers basketball and the Niagara District Referees Association.