Bulldogs capture Standard title
The Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs defeated the Eden Flyers 47-41 to win the championship at the 19th Annual Standard Girls Basketball Tournament. Photos by TESS PUCHALSKI.
Like every sport, the game of basketball can be a rollercoaster ride for even the most talented of players.
On Wednesday night, Sir Winston Churchill guard Ally Sentance sat dejected in the stands at Governor Simcoe talking to her mother, Sue Sentance. Even though the Bulldogs had advanced to the 19th Standard Girls Basketball Tournament semifinals with a win over St. Francis, the 15-year-old was fighting with her emotions over her inability to hit any kind of field goal.
“I’ve been trying to work on it and get reps up every few days and the first day I played it was falling and I was doing really well,” the Thorold resident said. “Then I started having some off days and I looked for my teammates.”
Her mother, a well-regarded coach who is the head coach of the Niagara JUEL Prep squad, had some words of wisdom for her daughter,
“She was telling me what I was doing wrong,” Ally said. “She notices things and she told me I needed to bend my knees and follow through more.
“I took that advice and I thought about it when I shot.”
Her mother’s advice paid off Friday night as Sentance poured in a game-high 18 points to lead the third-seeded Bulldogs to a 47-41 win over the top-seeded Eden Flyers in the tournament’s championship game.
“We played Eden in the St. Francis tournament and lost. We struggled in that game and couldn’t hit anything,” she said. “We pulled through tonight as a team by looking for the open man and it was nice to have Kaley (DeMont) back.”
DeMont returned to Churchill after deciding the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association program at A.N Myer wasn’t the right fit for her.
Sentance was all smiles after the game, holding her MVP trophy and all-star plaque.
“My cousin Sam (Keltos) played at Sir Winston for four years and I have been coming to this tournament for a long time,” she said. “I always thought about it and I am here now in a Bulldogs jersey. It’s great.”
And while Sentance was clearly the player of the game, it was what happened when she picked up her fourth foul and had to be taken out of the game with 5:38 left in the third quarter that was the story of the night.
“I thought I had kind of let my team down,” she said. “I take some stupid fouls sometimes. I reach a lot and I shouldn’t.”
Churchill head coach Frank Keltos, Sentance’s uncle, agreed that was the pivotal moment in the game.
“We put in the Grade 9s that I called up and they played some huge minutes for us,” he said. “They did a lot of the incidentals that you don’t see on the score clock.
“They didn’t score, but they rebounded, they defended, they moved the ball and they did a lot of really good stuff.”
The three Grade 9s that played a key role in helping the Bulldogs stay close were Kennedy Millin, Ella Turner and Megan Barker.
Keltos smiles when he thinks about what’s ahead with those talented Grade 9s, his Grade 10 MVP niece and two Churchill tournament all-stars (DeMont and Olivia Krieger) who are in Grade 11.
“The nice thing is that we are not even at our best peak year, but were pretty good and when (injured) Lauren (Vanecko) and Julia (Barker) come back, we’re that much deeper.”
The key cog on the team is Sentance, who impacts every game with her defensive aggression and tenacity.
“She has this thing where she can just get the ball,” Keltos said.”She gets two hands on the ball and ties them up. Half the time she steals it and half the time it’s a jump ball.”
The Bulldogs made it to the finals by defeating Saint Paul 60-24, St. Francis 48-38 and Blessed Trinity 49-37.
Eden advanced to the finals by knocking off Saint Michael 74-52, Governor Simcoe 56-22 and A.N. Myer 58-46.
“I am disappointed in the result, but certainly not the effort,” Eden coach Brian MacIsaac said. “We played well and they played better and there was a point in the game where we had opportunities and we just couldn’t score.”
MacIssac also pointed to his team’s inability to take advantage with Sentance on the bench with four fouls.
“Ally had four fouls and we were up four and when she came back we were up two,” he said. “We just couldn’t score and that was a big turning point in the game.
“I am totally happy with how we played and how we executed and sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in.”
Even with the loss, MacIsaac couldn’t think of a place he would have rather been on Friday night.
“Making the finals Friday night, it was a beautiful night,” he said. “It’s a special night for these kids. They got to play in front of all these fans and a great crowd.
“I am so appreciative of the Standard committee and everyone who is involved with this.”
Shameless plug: The Eden coach also praised BPSN’s coverage of the tournament.
“Thanks to you guys for all you are doing for local sport,” he said. “We really appreciate it.”
Also named to the tournament all-star team were Sir Winston Churchill’s DeMont and Krieger, and Eden’s Madalyn Weinert, Avery Cushing and Mackenzie Schroeder, with an honourable mention to Eden’s Beth deBoer.
DeMont averaged 15 points a game in the tournament and in the championship game had 13 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Krieger averaged 8.3 points a game and hit several crucial three-pointers during the tournament. In the final, she had five points and three rebounds.
Weinert averaged 16.3 points a game and in the final had 13 points, seven rebounds, five steals and two blocked shots.
Cushing averaged eight points a game in the tournament and had nine points, four rebounds and six steals in the final.
Schroeder averaged 9.5 points a game in the tournament and had eight points and six rebounds in the final.
DeBoer averaged 11.5 points a game in the tournament. In the final, she recorded three points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Bulldogs 47 Flyers 41
Mick and Angelo’s/Johnny Rocco’s Player of the Game: Churchill’s Ally Sentance with 18 points, six rebounds, eight steals and three assists.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Sentance 18; Kaley DeMont 13; Reagan Emonds 5; Olivia Krieger 5; Olivia Nazar 4; Ashley Harris 2.
For the Eden Flyers: Maddie Weinert 13; Avery Cushing 9; Mackenzie Schroeder 8; Camryn Bagshaw 4; Beth deBoer 3; Erica Rouse 2; Hayley Gilbert 2.
Game stats: Scoring by quarters: SWC 12-13-7-15=41, Eden 15-13-6-7=41. Rebounds: SWC 26, Eden 32. Turnovers SWC 17, Eden 23. Free throws; SWC 9-11, Eden 11-20.