With short bench, team wins three playoff games in a row in North Bay
By Pat Payton
NORTH BAY – It’s always a great way to end a season when you win your last game.
The DCVI Senior girls basketball team, which played with a short bench all weekend, won the consolation title here at the OFSAA ‘A’ tournament and brought home a provincial championship plaque for their efforts.
The eighth-seeded Salukis, coached by Gregg Blackler and Monica Ryan, went 4-1 in the tournament. After splitting their first two games, DCVI had to win three playoff games in a row to claim the consolation crown.
In the consolation final Saturday afternoon, St. Marys built a 23-14 half-time lead and then hung on for a 43-40 victory over Port Colborne Blue Bears, the No. 10 seed.
“The girls were super happy,” assistant coach Ryan reported.
It was a great way for three fifth-year Seniors–Abbey Thorup, Aimee King and Nathalie Bettger–to finish their DCVI basketball careers. “I think it was specially rewarding for them,” Ryan noted.
Like she did all tournament, Thorup led her team in the championship game with 26 points. Ava Bettger added eight points, Nathalie Bettger six, and Aimee King three.
Port Colborne out-scored Salukis 26-20 in the second half. Bears closed the gap with a couple of three-point baskets in the fourth quarter.
Split opening pair
Salukis opened the tournament Thursday morning with a 50-31 victory over the Saint Charles Garnier Lynx, a small French school from Whitby, who were seeded 14th.
St. Marys scored 25 points in both halves. DCVI led 25-12 at the half-time break, opening up a big lead by out-scoring the Lynx 16-2 in the second quarter.
Guard Abbey Thorup led the Salukis with 28 points. Ava Bettger also had a strong game with 16 points, including a three-point bucket.
“It took us a while to get going,” coach Blackler reported. “We blew it open in the second quarter. Aimee King played one of her best games of the year; she was really good under the basket. And both Bettgers (Ava and Nathalie) were excellent,” he added.
In their second game Friday morning, the DCVI Seniors played No. 9 seed ESC Algonquin Barons. Salukis lost to this same Barons team by just one point in their opening game at OFSAA last year.
This year, it wasn’t as close as the host school defeated St. Marys 51-33. Salukis trailed 32-11 at the half-time break, but out-scored Algonquin 22-19 in the second half.
Thorup again propelled the DCVI offence with 29 points. Ava Bettger added the other four points. Nine different players scored points for the Barons.
“The first quarter was close, but they pulled away in the second,” Blackler reported. “Algonquin is a very deep team. I watched some film on them the night before, and we tried to focus on some players, but they had too many players for us. They had good screens, which gave our defence problems.
“About three of our girls never left the court,” he added.
Build early lead
Salukis came up against a French school Nouvelle-Alliance in their third game Friday night. It was a consolation quarter-final contest and St. Marys played the game without two players due to injury.
In that game, DCVI defeated the No. 15 seed from Barrie, 41-26. Salukis built a commanding 18-3 first-quarter lead, but were in front just 23-17 at the half-time break. St. Marys took control again in third quarter, out-scoring their opposition 14-2.
Abbey Thorup again sparked the DCVI offence with 26 points, with Ava Bettger adding 10 more.
In the consolation semi-finals Saturday morning, Salukis faced No. 12 seed De La Salle College, a Catholic school from Toronto, and earned a berth in the final with a 56-44 victory.
De La Salle led 16-14 after the first quarter, but DCVI was up 30-27 at the half. St. Marys held just a 39-37 lead after three quarters, but broke it open with 17 fourth-quarter points.
Thorup was again Salukis’ high scorer with 28 points. Ava Bettger added 16, while Nathalie Bettger and Aimee King both had six. King was also strong under the boards.
One of the De La Salle players finished with 30 points.
“They’re really powering through; they’re a tough group,” coach Ryan said in admiration of her team.
–The Senior Salukis dearly missed hard-working Amy Waymouth, who was unable to play in North Bay due to a family vacation.
–Guard Abbey Thorup scored 137 points in five games for St. Marys.
–A total of 18 teams competed in the three-day OFSAA ‘A’ tournament. Round-robin games were spread across four North Bay high schools.
–O’Gorman Knights, from Timmins, repeated as the ‘A’ champions.