Golden Eagles advance to zone final
Thorold’s Shauntelle Marchan grabs a rebound in AA semifinal action Monday against the visiting Grimsby Eagles.
The Thorold Golden Eagles senior girls basketball team is a unique bunch.
Thorold doesn’t have a single travel basketball player on its roster which means the squad needs everyone to contribute to be successful. The Golden Eagles did just that Monday night and that team effort gave them a 58-51 victory over the visiting Grimsby Eagles and a berth in the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association AA final Thursday at Governor Simcoe.
The closing minutes of Monday’s game was a snapshot of how everyone contributes.
Trailing 47-45 with 3:41 left on the clock, Ava Conway took a charge on Grimsby’s top player, Hannah Wade, to give her team possession of the ball and Wade her fourth foul. On its possession, Kamryn Brown hit a long three to give the Golden Eagles a 48-47 lead.
Following a Thorold defensive stop, Conway hit a pair of free throws to give Thorold a 50-47 lead. After Grimsby cut the lead to 50-49, Grace Drummond put back an offensive rebound to restore the three-point lead at 52-49. After another Thorold stop, Shauntelle Marchan drove into the lane and scored in traffic to boost Thorold’s lead to 54-49.
Grimsby kept fighting and cut the lead to 54-41 setting the stage for some heroics by Grace Drummond. She drove to the basket to foul Wade out of the game and then hit both free throws to put Thorold up 56-51. Drummond would then record steals on Grimsby’s next two possessions before Conway completed the scoring with a pair of free throws with 40.7 seconds left in the game.
“We played them last week and it was tight just like this game,” Thorold head coach Andrew Thomson said. “It was whoever kept their composure and these girls bounced back. They are a special group.”
Thomson has seen his team come together over the last number of years.
“We have been together for four years and we don’t have a single girl that plays basketball outside of school,” he said. “They are 4-3 right now and they have made it to the zone finals. They show up every day, they work hard, they are likeable, they are athletic and they are great.”
Thomson felt his player of the game Monday was Marchan.
“She’s a leader, is a force inside rebounding and she shut down No. 5 (Wade) in the fourth quarter when she was going off,” he said. “She’s a great kid and everyone loves her.”
Thomson knows his team will have to play well against Simcoe in the zone final Thursday.
“We have to shut my niece (Jamie Addy) down,” he said, with a laugh. “We played them here before and they got up pretty big so there will be no family dinners for a couple of days.”
Marchan, a Grade 12 student, said there is a simple reason why a team of no travel players has had success.
“We all work together as a team and we are all happy,” she said. “I am just really happy right now.”
The 17-year-old agreed it was a difficult assignment to guard Wade.
“It was hard because she is really tall. She must be six feet or something.”
Marchan has enjoyed the ride with her teammates. They didn’t do well in Grade 9 but they made it to SOSSA (Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association) in Grade 10.
“Playing together for so long is really important and hopefully we can get to SOSSA and win,” she said.
She knows what the Golden Eagles need to do to beat Governor Simcoe.
“We have to play hard and work hard.”
Grimsby went 2-4 in regular season play and then saw its season end with the semifinal loss to Thorold.
“That was a really good game,” said Holly Miller, who coached the Grimsby team along with Sarah Bach. “It was a tough loss but I am proud of our team. They had some really good shooters today and that’s tough to play against.”
There was a lot of parity among AA teams in the league this season and Miller knew her team had every chance to win Monday’s game.
“It was nice to come out after COVID and have everyone back together,” Miler said. “We had a positive attitude, had fun and I am most happy about that over everything else.”
Golden Eagles 58 Eagles 51
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Shauntelle Marchan with 17 points and double-digit rebounds.
For the Thorold Golden Eagles: Marchan 17; Kamryn Brown 13; Ava Conway 10; Grace Drummond 8; Hope Nicholson 6; Aaliyah Uppal 2; Karyssa Baptiste 2.
For the Grimsby Eagles: Hannah Wade 16; Riley McBride 11; Opal Silverthorne 10; Alex Lupish 7; Sammi Dobie 2; Mackenzie Coulter 1; Emily Gebel 1; Team scoring 3.
Up next: The Golden Eagles advance to play at Governor Simcoe Thursday at 3:30 p.m. in the Zone 4 AA final.