Top 10 title heads North
Yemi Olapido and Ava Stranges were named the Players of the Game in the top 10 all-star game.
Last high school basketball season is one Ava Stranges would rather forget.
“Three games into high school basketball, I tore my ACL and I couldn’t play any more,” the Grade 11 student at Saint Paul said Wednesday, after being named Team South’s Player of the Game at the Top 10 game of the 16th Annual Niagara Girls All-Star Games held at the St. Catharines Collegiate. “We hosted OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) and I couldn’t play in that so it was a bit frustrating.”
The 2022 campaign was much better for the 16-year-old, including her Player of the Game selection.
“It is really exciting. I am happy to be back in my element. I love playing basketball,” the 5-foot-8 guard said. “It has been a fun experience, especially the high school season.
Stranges no longer needs to play with a knee brace but it will take a little time before she feels completely confident on the court.
“It is more of a mental thing. I felt like I had more support playing with it.”
She enjoyed her first all-star experience.
“It was a lot of fun and a lot of the girls I have played with before.”
It was anything but a typical all-star game with both teams playing tight defence.
“I didn’t really expect that but it was fun.”
Next up for Stranges is the Niagara Juel season.
“It’s a new team so I am excited to see where I am with the team.”
Sir Winston’s Yemi Olapido poured in 12 points and was named North’s Player of the Game as the North edged the South 51-40.
“I had so much fun,” Olapido said. “I play with a lot of these girls outside of here and they are some of my closest friends so it’s fun to all come together and play because we love the sport so much.
“It’s very exciting for sure. Having the break with COVID I was really looking forward to this and now that it’s here again I’m just really happy.”
Olapido said the game plan was to make sure everyone had a chance to score.
“We just wanted everyone to get touches on the ball and make it a fun game to watch. We didn’t want it to be a one-person game. Sharing the ball was the most important.”
The game ended Olapido’s high school career, just a couple of weeks after collecting a gold medal with the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs at the OFSAA AA championships.
“I’m so excited it ended this way,” she said.
Olapido plans to continue her basketball career next year.
“Right now nothing is signed but I’ve had close contact with the University of Waterloo so I plan to do my studies there and play basketball,” she said.
Proceeds from the game went to Women’s Place. Sponsors of the event were: St. Catharines CYO basketball which bought the shirts; the Brock women’s basketball team which provided water bottles to all the participants and sponsored player of the game awards; and, the Niagara District Referees Association which officiated the games at no charge.
Team North 51 Team South 40
Cat’s Caboose Players of the Game: Ava Stranges and Yemi Olapido.
Team North: Olapido 12; Eden’s Ashlyn Caverly 13; St. Francis’ Mikayla Wallace 11; Blessed Trinity’s Brianna Davis 4; Sir Winston’s Megan Barker 4; Holy Cross’ Taurier Cunningham 3; Blessed Trinity’s Maggie Vukojec 2; Denis Morris’ Amy Venneri 2. Governor Simcoe’s Jamie Addy, Sir Winston’s Brookelyn Keltos.
Team South: Stranges 12; Notre Dame’s Nicole Pullar 8; St. Paul’s Samantha Dino 7; St. Mike’s Jaime Manlow 5; A.N. Myer’s Marielle Zapata 3; A.N. Myer’s Mya Pierini 2; Port High’s Cadence Seredine 2; Smithville’s Daniella Zondag 1; E.L. Crossley’s Katie Brophy, Notre Dame’s Emma Hemphill.
Scoring by quarters: North 22-13-9-9=51; South 14-13-10-13=40.
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