Churchill top seed at BPSN Tourney
After a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BPSN Girls Basketball Tournament returns to local high school gyms this week.
Featuring 15 senior teams and one junior squad (Sir Winston Churchill), the tournament kicks off with games Tuesday afternoon at Sir Winston Churchill, Eden, Holy Cross and Governor Simcoe. The tournament switches to Sir Winston Churchill and Governor Simcoe on Wednesday with consolation quarter-finals at 2:30 and 4 p.m. and championship quarter-finals at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. All the games will be played Thursday at Governor Simcoe with consolation semifinals at 2:30 and 4 p.m. and championship semifinals at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Championship night will be staged Friday at Governor Simcoe with the consolation final at 5:30 p.m. and the championship game at 7 p.m.
Proceeds from the tournament will be used to provide bursaries to girls who played in the tournament. When the event was last staged in 2019, $1,400 worth of bursaries were handed out to four recipients. This year, Women Networking in Sports of Niagara has come on board and will also be awarding bursaries to participants.
The top seed and defending champion at the tournament is the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs. Churchill, which is playing at the AA level, won an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association’s AAA bronze medal last season and recently made the finals of the Western tournament. Rounding out the top four seeds are Blessed Trinity, A.N. Myer and Eden.
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.
Below are brief summaries of the participating teams in the tournament:
A.N. MYER MARAUDERS
Key returning players: Marielle Zapata and Layla Marios.
Key newcomers: Jenna Saddler, Mya Pierini, Carly Casciano, Sophia Kotsanis, Emma Vendittelli, Maia Walker and Maggie Mannell.
BLESSED TRINITY THUNDER
Key returning players: Maggie Vucojev, Brianna Davis, Jaylin Niklas, Nadia Talukdar and Allana Meester.
Key newcomers: Maria Di Flavio and Avery Wailing.
Strengths: Playing as a team and ball movement.
Weakness: Transition offence.
DENIS MORRIS REDS
Key players: Amy Venneri, Jenna Berry and Aeryonah St. Amand-Thomas.
Strengths: Size and rebounding.
Key returning player: Lahmiss Gharib.
Key newcomers: Starting line from Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association champion juniors made up of Ashlyn Caverly, Alyssa Nieuwets, Anna Deliyannis, Chloe Dilalla and Annika Rigby.
Strength: Defensive intensity.
Weakness: Senior level experience.
GOVERNOR SIMCOE REDCOATS
Key returning players: Jamie Addy, Kiera Teske, Brianna Peters, Maddy Hollingsworth and Abby Ravazzalo.
Strength: Team revolves around Addy who brings leadership, skill and years of experience.
Weakness: Seven (Grade 9/10) new players and little experience but very eager to learn, grow and get better.
E.L. CROSSLEY CYCLONE
Returning players: Kaitlyn Brophy, L’Jayah Simmonds, Amelia Siolkowsky and Grace Sodtke.
Newcomers: Ella Andrew, Sarah Lowry, Maddison Matiesh, Julia Moldenhauer, Tiffany Tsakanikas and Ava Young.
HOLY CROSS RAIDERS
Key returning players: Tori Cunningham, Sophia Frankin, Tessa Vahrmeyer and Mairead Newhouse.
Key newcomer: Clare Martires.
Strengths: Ball movement and shooting.
Weakness: Need time on floor together.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
Key returning players: Nicole Dixon, Olivia Bittman and Abbey Grande.
Key newcomers: Nicole Pullar, Emma Hemphill, Ava DeChellis, Lila DiPietro and Lauryn Briggs.
Weaknesses: Young and inexperienced.
SAINT FRANCIS PHOENIX
Key returning players: Mikayla Wallace, Emma Collini and Kori Zukowsky.
Key newcomers: Riyana Chahoud and Alicia Kryzanowski.
Strengths: High energy, coachable team, willing to put in the work.
Weaknesses: Crashing the net; offensive rebounds.
Key returning players: Alexandra Roberge, Seanna Savoury, Solange Savoury and Amélia (Mia) Wendling.
Key newcomer: Isabelle Roberge.
Strengths: Speed and height.
Weaknesses: Finishing shots and capitalizing on opportunities.
SAINT MICHAEL MUSTANGS
Returning players: Jamie Manlow, Olivia LeRose, Jordan Howcroft, Ava Formica, Julia Lambert, Gabrielle Moutilika and Serenity St. Angel.
Newcomers: Brianna DeMarchi, Ava Hodgson, Mya Pasto, Layla Hall, Ava Pendzenski, Serena Damico and Taya Paone.
Strengths: Athletic and aggressive on defence.
SAINT PAUL PATRIOTS
Key returning players: Brooke Lennox, Samantha Dino and Michaela Carbonera.
Key newcomer: Ava Stranges.
Strengths: Speed and agility.
Weakness: Lack of height.
SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL BULLDOGS (SR.)
Key returning players: Brookelyn Keltos, Yemi Oladipo, Megan Barker, Sam Cormier and Kate Smyth.
Key newcomers: Anya Namestnik, Morgan Barker and Kiera Pink.
Strengths: Five returning starters, speed, size and athleticism.
Weakness: Communication as a team.
SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL BULLDOGS (JR.)
Key players: Sarah Hardy, Sydney Jones, Norah Hoff and Shannen Short.
Strength: Good basketball IQ.
Weaknesses: Team speed, shooting and size.
SMITHVILLE CHRISTIAN STORM
Key returning players: Daniella Zondag, Kyra VanGeest and Regina Mushegeera.
Key newcomer: Ava Froese.
Strengths: Core players with experience playing in single A OFSAA; lots of heart and commitment; encouraging and supportive team; quick transitions.
Weakness: Plenty of new players learning a new system.
THOROLD GOLDEN EAGLES
Key returning players: Ava Conway, Hope Guignard and Grace Sargeant.
Key newcomers: Ashley Mayhew, Tiana Hicks and Anna Hammond.
Strengths: Athletic and smart.
Weaknesses: Inexperience and youth.