Panther girls fifth in Ontario
Capturing the Blessed Sacrament tournament in March was a turning point for the Pelham Panthers under-14 girls basketball team on its march to a fifth-place finish at the Ontario Basketball Association championships.
“The girls’ schedule was very tough all season, so many great teams in OBLX and playing tough teams in tournaments made it tough to string together consecutive wins,” assistant coach Andrea Hurley said. “The team worked hard in practices and extra training sessions and it all came together at the Blessed Sacrament tournament where the team was starting to peak.”
Pelham won five straight games to win the tournament, including a win in the final over Transway, last year’s provincial champion.
“This win gave the team the energy and confidence needed to take into the OBLX playoffs and Provincial Cup,” she said.
The Panthers were 6-8 in OBLX play to finish eighth in the league. The squad had an exhibition record of 4-2 and a tournament mark of 14-6. In addition to its Blessed Sacrament championship, the Panthers won silver at the Belleville tournament, third at the Transway tournament and placed fourth at an event in Barrie.
Manager Christine Cunningham felt the team was a special group because of the players’ commitment to being team players on and off the court.
“When you get a group of 10 girls with a variety of qualities working together, it becomes a great thing,” she said. “This group brings talent and passion for the games and they showed numerous times their ability to fight back from deficit to win.
“This a group that makes it easy to coach and be proud of all their moments, wins or losses.”
Pelham finished the season with an overall record of 25-17.
“It was a good group of girls who worked hard and believed in each other,” assistant coach Heather Addy said. “Everyone contributed in their own way.”
At the OBA championships, Pelham finished with an 1-2 record.
“The key moment at provincials was our first game,” assistant coach Nicole DiDomenico said. “We were the underdogs and the girls took it in stride and fought. Nobody thought we would come close to some of the Toronto super teams and we quickly showed them we were there to compete.”
It was a total team effort.
“Every single one of the girls came out hard, they were diving on the floor, fighting for rebounds and making the other team work for every single basket,” DiDomenico said. “Even though we didn’t come away with the win, we forced the team into overtime and built up confidence in ourselves that we belong at the top with the best teams in the province.”
Members of the team were Cameron Kipp, Grace Sodtke, Jamie Addy, Julia Moldenhauer, Kaitlyn Brophy, Lucy Whaling, Maddie Tait, Sarah Hurley, Sophia Franklin and Taurie Cunningham.
Mike Hurley was Pelham’s head coach.