Stranges day indeed
No one is happier to see Ava Stranges back on the basketball court than Kristin McDonald.
The Saint Paul senior girls basketball coach had a front row seat Tuesday as Stranges poured in 29 points to lead the Patriots to a 54-51 victory over the Smithville Christian Storm in opening-round play at the Second Annual BPSN Girls Basketball Tournament at Eden.
“She is a great player and a game-changer. She is an awesome scoring machine, is great on defence and she knows the game inside and out,” McDonald said. “We didn’t have her last year because she hurt her knee and it was a very disappointing year for her and us as well.”
The Grade 11 student was looking forward to her first year of senior ball last fall when things came to an untimely end.
“I was at a basketball practice with my team and I got hit on the knee and my ACL and meniscus tore. I got surgery pretty fast so that was good and I have been cleared to play now for about three weeks.”
She admits it was a difficult year rehabbing her knee.
“It was really tough watching my team play and not being able to compete with them. It was obviously very frustrating but it was something I had to work through. It made me a better player and I realized how much I loved the sport and how much I wanted to get back.”
She kept working even during the rehab.
“I went to the gym a lot and practised my shooting because that was something I really wanted to get better at,” she said. “I was doing that and going on the treadmill to build up my endurance to be ready to play games like these.”
She is not sure what her basketball goals are quite yet.
“I just want to continue to get better and hopefully get some sort of scholarship.”
The 16-year-old Niagara Falls resident has been playing basketball since she was nine or 10 and suited up with the Niagara Falls Red Raiders and Welland Warriors before making the Niagara Juel team this fall.
Tuesday’s game was a tale of two halves for the Patriots; a dominant first half following by hanging on for dear life in the second.
“We lost a little bit of our intensity and we lost a little bit of steam and patience and that is when they started to gain momentum,” McDonald said. “The game shifted just like that.”
The Storm trailed 23-6 after one quarter and 39-22 at the half before roaring back to make the game a thriller at the final buzzer.
“That was exciting to watch,” Smithville coach Derrick DeKlerk said. “The big change we made was on our defence and trying to top their three-pointers from going in. I think that helped us out a lot and then we just worked the offence that we normally work.”
The Storm returned two starters from its Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association’s A championship squad of a season ago and the team is looking to have another great run.
“We plan to make it to SOSSA (Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association) and go right to OFSAA as well,” DeKlerk said. “We hope to win.”
Patriots 54 Storm 51
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Saint Paul’s Ava Stranges with 29 points.
For the Saint Paul Patriots: Ava Stranges 29; Brooke Lennox 13; Sam Dino 7: Kayla Scott 3; Michaela Carbonaro 2.
For the Smithville Christian Storm: Ava Froese 21; Daniella Zondag 19; Regina Mushegeera 5; Kyra VanGeest 3; Brooke Gilpin 2; Bethany DeHaan 1.
Up next: Consolation quarter-finals at Governor Simcoe: Thorold vs. Brebeuf at 2:30 p.m. and Denis Morris vs.Saint Francis at 4 p.m. Championship quarter-finals at Governor Simcoe: Myer vs. Simcoe at 5:30 p.m. and Holy Cross vs. Eden at 7 p.m. Consolation quarter-finals at Churchill: Crossley vs. Churchill juniors at 2:30 p.m. and St. Mike’s vs. Smithville Christian at 4 p.m. Championship quarter-finals at Churchill: Churchill seniors vs. Saint Paul at 5:30 p.m. and Notre Dame vs. Blessed Trinity at 7 p.m.
THUNDER 34 CHURCHILL JRS. 20
Maggie Vukojev netted 14 points to power the Blessed Trinity Thunder to a 34-20 victory over the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs junior team in opening-round action Tuesday at the Second Annual BPSN Girls Basketball Tournament at Churchill
Also scoring for the Thunder were: Brianna Davis (9), Maria DeFlavio (6), Nadia Talukdar (2), Caroline Heatherton (2) and Raffaella DiMarcantonio (1).
Scoring for the Churchill junior team were Calleigh Digirolamo (8), Sarah Hardy (6), Kenndy Krause (4), Nora Hoff (1) and Shannen Short (1).
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.