By Martin Cleary
Dozens of exciting games in noisy and energized gymnasiums were played last week during the three girls’ basketball and three boys’ volleyball OFSAA championships throughout Ontario.
If you were to select three outstanding games during the championships from an Ottawa regional perspective, one highlight would be the girls’ AA basketball quarterfinal between the Arnprior District Rapid and the Béatrice-Desloges Bulldogs.
It was a critical game for a pair of schools with matching historical backgrounds in girls’ basketball at the OFSAA level.
This was only the second time Arnprior District, which dates back 146 years, and Béatrice-Desloges, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this school year, have ever played in the OFSAA girls’ basketball championships.
In their first girls’ basketball championship, the schools combined for one win and four losses and obviously didn’t win an OFSAA medal.
Last Friday, however, No. 5-seeded Arnprior and No. 14 Béatrice-Desloges met head-to-head and were presented an opportunity to achieve that high standard of being an OFSAA medallist in Stratford. Only one team would win and advance to the semifinals where all four teams are guaranteed a medal – gold, silver, bronze or antique bronze.
The Rapids and the Bulldogs also had never met in their history, certainly not in their respective Upper Ottawa Valley or National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association leagues or even in tournament play.
Béatrice-Desloges led 16-15 after the opening quarter, but Arnprior District rallied in the second quarter and held a 28-24 advantage. In the second half, Arnprior District increased its lead by another four points for a 55-47 victory.
Naomi Daley had her eye focused on the hoop as she scored 31 points for the Rapids in the must-win game.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Philip Moore, the Arnprior District co-coach with Chris Spratt. “They had really good guards and played well. They kept us off balance.”
Besides the strong offensive production from Daley, the Rapids also executed stellar defence.
“Overall, our team defence and man-to-man defence was the key to our success,” Moore added.
The quarterfinal victory advanced the Rapids into the semifinals against No. 1 Sir Winston Churchill, who returned its team from 2021, after winning OFSAA bronze at the higher AAA level.
Moore called Arnprior District’s only loss in five games “a hiccup” against the powerful Churchill squad from St. Catharines. Churchill won the semifinal 75-33 and went on to seize the gold medal.
The Rapids, who posted an overall 26-6 record this season, were relegated to the bronze-medal game, which had its downs and ups.
No. 6 Hammerskjold of Thunder Bay ended the first quarter with a 10-9 advantage and was ahead 22-17 at halftime. But the Rapids stormed back at both ends of the court and won the third quarter 25-5 to take a 42-27 lead. Both teams scored six points each in the fourth quarter as the Rapids won the bronze-medal game 48-33.
Anna Hirst was the Rapids’ offensive leader with 21 points, while Camryn Buffam had 10 points and Daley and Mika Clifford had seven and six points respectively.
Maya Mulvihill, Molly Sheldrick and Daley were defensive leaders, while Hirst, Buffam and Clifford restricted Hammerskjold’s three top scorers to a combined 21 points.
“That’s our first medal at the OFSAA championships for boys or girls’ basketball,” Moore said proudly. “It really is a Cinderella story. We were second at our regionals. We didn’t win EOSSAA. To get into the medal round and to come back with a medal is fantastic.”
Meanwhile, the Béatrice-Desloges boys’ senior volleyball team can appreciate that winning feeling as the Bulldogs won a school-record silver medal in the sport at the OFSAA AA championship in Huntsville. They entered their championship as the 15th seed out of 20 schools.
The small eight-man roster was invincible in its first six games – four round-robin and two tight playoff wins – but dropped the gold-medal final 3-0 to LaSalle Secondary School.
After winning its pool by capturing eight of nine sets over its four opponents, the Bulldogs showed their determination and resilience by winning back-to-back five-set playoff matches.
Béatrice-Desloges held off Kingsville 25-19, 21-25, 25-23, 24-26, 15-10 in its Friday quarterfinal and Sacred Heart 16-25, 25-18, 29-27, 22-25, 15-13 in its semifinal.
“(They) finished first in their pool, defeating the No. 3 seed in their first match and defeating the No. 2 team in the semifinals in a nail-biting, five-set match,” Béatrice-Desloges’ athletic director Sylvain Raymond wrote in an email interview.
“They unfortunately lost the final to a very strong team and brought home the silver medal. Amazing. I believe our best showing in Béatrice-Desloges’ 25-year history is a bronze medal at OFSAA.
“This year was a great year from start to finish with the boys committing to the team and to the coach (Joel Lavoie). It has paid off.”
Béatrice-Desloges only had one Grade 12 student-athlete on its roster, two in Grade 11 and five in Grade 10.
“We should be set up for a couple of years with this group,” Raymond added. “Graced with strong club players such as Jérémie Rainville (Team Ontario) and a couple of other Maverick stars, coach Joel was able to form them into a winning team with good chemistry on and off the court.”
At the OFSAA boys’ AAA volleyball championship in Kingston, the Franco-Cité Faucons rallied to outlast A.B. Lucas of London 26-28, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-11 in the consolation final and placed ninth in their first year in the top category.
Franco-Cité reached the final by defeating Holy Cross 25-14, 25-18, 25-9.
RAVENS, GEE-GEES SWEEP MEN’S, WOMEN’S BASKETBALL GAMES
The Carleton University Ravens men’s basketball team lived up to its No. 1 U Sports ranking by winning a pair of OUA games against West-Division opponents.
The Ravens defeated Windsor Lancers 98-76, but had to battle hard in the fourth quarter to overcome Western Mustangs 97-91.
Carleton is tied for second place in the East Division with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees at 6-1, while Queen’s University Gaels are first at 7-0.
Grant Shephard paced the Ravens with 42 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in the two games, while Aiden Warnholtz was equally strong at 41 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists.
The No. 5 Gee-Gees kept pace with the Ravens in the standings, turning back Western 98-78 and Windsor 74-66.
Guillaume Pepin was the Gee-Gees’ top scorer with a two-game total of 48 points and 15 rebounds. Cole and Brock Newton had respective numbers of 29 points and 11 assists, and 27 points and nine rebounds. Dragan Stajic was a multiple contributor with a combined 17 points, 16 rebounds and 12 assists.
The undefeated (7-0) University of Ottawa women’s team, which is ranked 10th nationally, defeated Western 79-63 and Windsor 78-44.
Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu spearheaded the Gee-Gees’ attack with a total of 34 points and 20 rebounds, while Nadine Katumbai had 26 points and seven rebounds and Oksana Gouchie-Provencher was good for 24 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
Kali Pocrnic scored six of her 22 points in overtime as the Carleton women’s team downed Windsor 70-64. The Ravens also defeated Western 63-53.
Pocrnic counted a combined 44 points, nine assists and four rebounds in her two games, while Jacqueline Urban chipped in with 20 points, 24 rebounds and five steals.
SKELETON SLIDER MIMI RAHNEVA PLACES SEVENTH IN WORLD CUP OPENER
Ottawa’s Mimi Rahneva kicked off her 2022-2023 World Cup skeleton season with a seventh-place performance on home ice in Whistler, B.C.
The two-time Olympian was ninth in the first run and fifth in the second run to post a combined time of 1:47.99, .59 seconds back of winner Hannah Neise of Germany.
TWO TOP-25 WORLD CUP RESULTS FOR NORDIC SKIER STEWART-JONES
Nakkertok Ski Club’s Katherine Stewart-Jones opened her World Cup cross-country skiing season with a pair of strong, point-scoring results in Ruka, Finland.
On Saturday, she was 24th in the women’s 10-kilometre classic race in 26 minutes, 8.8 seconds. That left her 79 seconds behind winner Ebba Andersson of Sweden, who stopped in 24:49.6. The result was the fifth-best World Cup finish in Stewart-Jones’ career.
She recorded the 17th fastest time in the 20-kilometre pursuit on Sunday in 52:42.5 and placed 20th overall in the two-stage race.
“Ruka is one of my favourite venues,” Stewart-Jones said. “My plan today was to stick with the group I started with because I know there were some really strong skater-skiers that I could hold onto.”
Frida Karlsson of Sweden placed first in the 20-kilometre pursuit in 49:55.3.
JONATHAN DAVID, CANADA TO EXIT AFTER FIRST ROUND AT WORLD CUP
Ottawa’s Jonathan David and the Canadian men’s soccer team will not advance past the group stage of the men’s FIFA World Cup following a 4-1 defeat to Croatia on Sunday in Qatar.
But David was in the middle of the historic moment that will be replayed over and over when Canada scored its first-ever goal at the men’s World Cup. The 22-year-old was attacking as Tajon Buchanan’s cross passed just over him to Alphonso Davies for the header that the country had long awaited.
Canada lost its first match 1-0 to Belgium and will wrap up the tournament with its final match against Morocco Thursday.
SIX OTTAWA FOOTBALL PLAYERS NAMED ALL-CANADIANS
Four University of Ottawa Gee-Gees were recognized with U Sports national football awards by being named to the All-Canadian teams.
Linebacker James Peter was placed on the first team, while three teammates were selected to the second squad – running back J.P. Cimankinda, linebacker Emmanuel Aboagye-Gyan and cornerback Kevin Victome.
Ottawa’s Isaiah Knight of the University of British Columbia joined Cimankinda as a second-team running back and Ottawa’s Richard Burton of Queen’s University was named as a receiver.
Ottawa’s Katley Joseph and his Saskatchewan Huskies lost to the Laval Rouge et Or 30-24 in Saturday’s Vanier Cup national university football championship final.
OTTAWA AND AREA CURLING RINKS REACH BONSPIEL PLAYOFFS
Ottawa’s Mark Kean reached the semifinals of the Stu Sells Cookstown Curling Classic, but lost to Pat Ferris of Grimsby 6-4. Kean defeated Brandon Tippin of Bala, ON., 7-3 in the quarterfinals.
Jordan McNamara of Ottawa qualified for the playoffs, but was eliminated, after a 9-3 quarterfinal loss to Alex Champ of Kitchener-Waterloo.
At the Home Again Curling Classic in Listowel, ON., Carleton Place’s Hailey Armstrong lost 6-5 to Bella Croisier of Sudbury in the women’s quarterfinals.
HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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