Phoenix edge Cyclone for consolation title
The St. Francis Phoenix rebounded from a disappointing loss in the opening round to defeat the E.L. Crossley Cyclone 45-43 and capture the consolation title at the Second Annual BPSN Girls Basketball Tournament Friday night at Governor Simcoe.
The Phoenix were upset by the Holy Cross Raiders Tuesday before a packed gym at Holy Cross, but rather than sulk about the loss, found a way to refocus on the next best thing.
“I’m so proud,” St. Francis coach Karly Ruetz said. “Honestly, I knew no matter what the outcome was of that first game we were going to continue to push and work hard the entire tournament.
“It feels amazing. Any kind of trophy to bring back to St. Francis makes me very happy.”
Rookie guard Riyanna Chahoud echoed her coach’s comments.
“It was disappointing but we picked it back up.We always do,” she said. “We worked on being better as a team, passing the ball and crashing the boards. That was the main thing.”
The Phoenix had all they could handle with a gritty squad from E.L. Crossley.
“It felt like we were fighting an uphill battle,” Ruetz said. “We took a lot of fouls early very in the game, especially the first and second quarter, on a lot of our starters so it was good we added people coming in from the bench working extra hard.
“It was a lot of back and forth. I’m proud of how hard everyone played.”
Chahoud was at her best in the second half with the game on the line, scoring all of her nine points in the final 16 minutes.
“I try on defence to be in the middle and to take charges or whatever they need and on offence to be a ball handler and get the ball around,” said Chahoud, who also plays at the JUEL Prep level.
Ruetz loves Chahoud’s attention to detail on defence.
“She is someone who brings so much energy,” Ruetz said. “She’s a fresh face — she’s Grade 9 — which is great. She’s very much an all-around player, similar to what I had to say about Mikayla Wallace, just a couple of years younger. She works incredibly hard on defence which I love. I’m such a defensive-focused coach. So I love her hustle on D and she can also translate it into points on offence.”
Crossley coach Aaron Belding feels the experience of playing in the tournament will benefit his team down the road.
“It was really good,” Belding said. “We have quite a few inexperienced players so getting into a high pressure situation like that is really good. The thing that hurt was losing Katy (Brophy) being fouled out with 30 seconds to go in the pivotal point of the game so now I’m depending on other players to do what I would normally depend on Katy for.
“On the other note, they all played fantastic. Huge learning, huge improvement and they’ll only get better towards the end of the season.”
Phoenix 45 Cyclone 43
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Riyanna Chahoud with nine points, all in the second half.
St. Francis Phoenix: Chahoud 9; Mikayla Wallace 18; Rozlyn Ciocca 7; Kyla Pylypiw 4; Asia Artin 4; Kori Zukowsky 3.
E.L. Crossley Chiefs: Grace Sodke 15; Kaitlyn Brophy 9; L’Jayah Simmonds 5; Addison Falardeau 5; Amelia Siolkowsky 4; Sara Lowry 4.
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
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