Bulldogs defend BPSN title; Keltos MVP
Brookelyn Keltos was all smiles after being named the MVP of the Second Annual BPSN Girls Basketball Tournament.
The Grade 12 student led the tournament in scoring with 64 points and averaged 16 points per game. She scored seven points in the final to help the top-seeded Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs defend their title with a 49-20 victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Friday night at Governor Simcoe.
“It is very special,” she said. “Kaley (DeMont) won it the last time and it is nice to be the next name on the trophy after her, especially after not having the tournament since 2019. It is nice being the first MVP back on the trophy.”
Keltos has a long history with the tournament, which was known as the Standard High School Girls Basketball Tournament for more than two decades. Before being a player, she would watch her older sister Sam, a Standard MVP, compete in the event.
“I have been here for 10 years, since Sam was in Grade 9,” she said. “I was one of the kids playing at halftime and watching them play.”
When she was young, she would dream of competing in the event.
“The atmosphere of this tournament is so exciting and I really wanted that for us. We got a whole bunch of fans to come and I remember the crowd in 2019 being wild.”
Brookelyn’s dad Frank Keltos, Churchill’s head coach, was proud to see his daughter nab MVP honours.
“They had their best defender on her, Nicole Pullar, and she came in at halftime and said she was missing everything,” he said. “But I told her that she was getting the ball and she was the general out there. I told her ‘Everyone was looking to you and getting you the ball and that makes you a huge asset to our team.’ Yah the points weren’t there and sometimes she thinks it is all about the points but when you run the show, it’s a huge honour to be that person. I am very pleased for her.”
Brookelyn took her dad’s words to heart in the final.
“I was sort of disappointed in my shooting but then I realized that if I am not the key shooter this game somebody else is obviously scoring points for the team and we will still get a win if we work as a team,” she said. “I just focused on my passes and taking shots when I got the opportunity.”
Frank Keltos was happy with the tournament title.
“We did what we wanted to do early and once again we took the press off and had a lull through the start of the second half,” he said. “We missed a couple of layups and they hit a couple of shots and then we kind of started getting in our kitchen again. We maintained enough to win convincingly.”
Friday’s game ended a crazy stretch for the Bulldogs, who played 10 days in seven days. Churchill looked like a tired bunch by game’s end.
“They get three days off then we get back to league play and then we are in the St. Thomas More Tournament,” he said.
Brookelyn admitted she and her teammates were exhausted after the game.
“Ten is a lot and on the weekend we played five in the row,” she said. “Obviously this tournament is very competitive and we were excited to bring our best. Every game you bring your all and it takes a lot of energy. It was very tiring today.”
Notre Dame trailed 15-1 after one quarter and 35-4 at the half.
“We are disappointed. We didn’t get off to the start we wanted and we were a bit overwhelmed at the beginning,” Irish head coach Pat O’Leary said. “Our youth and inexperience as a team showed.”
Notre Dame had a much better second half.
“They weren’t pressuring us as much in the second half but I am really proud of how they continued to fight and didn’t show it on their faces,” he said.
O’Leary is looking forward to what lies ahead for his young squad.
“I think we have an opportunity and we would like to compete for a zone championship and who knows from there? We are going to get better as we go because we need to practise more. I think we will see a lot of improvement.”
Named to the all-star team were Churchill’s Yemi Oladipo and Megan Barker, Notre Dame’s Emma Hemphill and Nicole Pullar, and Saint Francis’s Mikayla Foster.
Oladipo averaged 9.3 points a game in the tournament and scored four points in the championship game. Barker led her team in scoring in the championship game with 15 points and averaged 12.8 points per game. Hemphill averaged 11.5 points a game and scored four in the final. Pullar averaged 7.3 points a game in the tournament and scored three points in the final. Wallace averaged 12.8 points a game, including a team-high 18 in the consolation final.
Bulldogs 49 Irish 20
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Churchill’s Megan Barker with 15 points.
For the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs: Barker 15; Kate Smyth 9; Brookelyn Keltos 7; Samantha Cormier 7; Yemi Oladipo 4; Lauren Cosby 3; Megan Barker 2; Paige Cook 2.
For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Nicole Dixon 4; Emma Hemphill 4; Nicole Pullar 3; Elyse Carmichael 3; Lila DiPietro 2; Olivia Bittman 2; Abbey Grande 2.
The tournament was 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. A special thank you to Dan Duemo for doing the announcing during Friday’s games.