Junior girls defeat Warriors by a single point, again
Seniors win 32-30 in Mitchell to also earn a berth in conference final this week
Candela Vila Cilleros, of the Junior Salukis, drives towards the St. Mikes basket late in the fourth quarter last Wednesday at DCVI. Via Cilleros scored what proved to be the winning basket in a narrow 27-26 semi-final basketball victory over the Warriors
By Pat Payton
Two weeks ago, the DCVI Junior girls travelled to Stratford St. Michael and came home with a thrilling 27-26 Huron-Perth League basketball victory over the Warriors.
The two evenly-matched teams met again last Wednesday at the collegiate in the H-P semi-finals, with a berth in the conference final on the line.
The final result was again a 27-26 win for Tim O'Connor's Salukis in a game that honestly could have gone either way. It was too close to call, right down to the final seconds. To Salukis' credit, with the game up for grabs, they made a couple of clutch shots late to claim their fourth straight victory.
"That was a battle against a very good team; I'm proud of you," coach O'Connor said while addressing his team.
"It was another good game for our girls," he later told the newspaper. "We knew St. Mikes would play hard, and we knew they would be especially strong defensively. For us, I was very happy with our defensive play. St. Mikes has a really good guard (Mia Morris) and we made her work for her points."
During the game, O'Connor admitted being frustrated with his team's unforced turnovers. "We were a little careless with the ball today; we've got some stuff to work on," he said with a smile.
Salukis grab lead in second quarter
Warriors scored the game's first four points and led 6-2 after the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Salukis scored the first eight points to go in front 10-6. Sydney Grant provided a spark for St. Marys with two baskets and four points, and the home team never trailed again.
DCVI led 14-10 at the half-time break.
Salukis extended their lead to 20-10 in the third quarter. St. Mikes finally scored its lone basket of the period with just six seconds remaining, and the visitors trailed by eight going into the final eight minutes.
Warriors pushed to get back in the game early in the fourth quarter, and quickly closed the gap to 21-17. After a huge basket by smooth-shooting Candela Vila Cilleros, St. Mikes scored the next four points and trailed just 23-21.
Guard Niko Taylor responded with a key bucket with 1:45 remaining to restore a four-point St. Marys advantage. After Warriors again made it a two-point game (25-23), Vila Cilleros nailed what proved to be the winning basket with just 35 seconds remaining.
Olivia Van Straaten netted a three-pointer for St. Mikes with 1.6 seconds left on the clock, but it was too little, too late.
"That was a big bucket from Candela; that was huge," O'Connor said. "She was solid and Niko played excellent defensively, but we got good minutes from everybody. They're supportive of each other, and they're a fun group of kids to work with.
"They make it interesting, we've won three games by a total of four points."
Vila Cilleros, a Spanish International student, led Salukis with 12 points. Eden Sinnett added five points and good hustle and defence. Other defensive standouts for St. Marys included Abbey Martin, Charlee Pickering and Rebecca Stevens.
Morris topped the Warriors' scorers with 10 points. Katie Antonio contributed six points and Van Straaten five more.
Last Wednesday's win gives the Jr. Salukis a berth in the conference final against Goderich Vikings. That final game goes this Wednesday, Nov. 24 at the DCVI gym at 3 p.m. The fourth-place Vikings (1-3) pulled an upset in the other semi-final, defeating first-place (4-0) Stratford Secondary Schools 29-27 in Stratford.
Senior girls hold off Devils
At Mitchell last Wednesday, the DCVI Senior girls also earned a berth in this week's 'A' final with a 32-30 victory over the Blue Devils.
"It was a good team effort," coach Monica Ryan reported. "We were up 20-4 in the first half and then let Mitchell back in the game. Strong defence, especially by Garazi Irazabal-Urrutia on Mitchel's top scorer, kept us in the game. Good team work overall secured this win for us."
Japanese International student Honoka Terai paced the Salukis' offence with 11 points. Ellen Thorup added nine points and Anna Ropp six. Maya Belfour scored 20 of the Devils' 30 points.
The 'A' final goes Wednesday in Clinton against Central Huron. In the other semi-final last week, the Phoenix defeated Goderich 29-22.