St. Mary’s smothering defence helped seize a Bluewater Athletic Association senior girls basketball title Thursday in Meaford.
The Mustangs mashed the Kincardine District Knights 40-10 in the championship contest at Georgian Bay Community School.
After opening the game with a three-point bucket, the Knights only managed only two more points until garbage time in the fourth quarter.
“I told them if you want to win the game it starts on defence,” said Mustangs head coach Adam Jones. “And they executed . . . the fifth-years led the way . . . they played with more effort on defence than offence and it led to scoring at the other end.”
The Mustangs played a two-three zone structure in their half-court defence. Three forwards patrolled near the baseline covering under the basket and the two wings while the St. Mary’s guards moved as a unit at the top of the key.
Jones said the defence – used for the first time all season in the championship game – was a strategy aimed at taking away the Knights’ strong post-game.
“We knew they had some strong players down low,” he said. “Let them shoot the ball. We wanted them to shoot from the outside.”
Arianna Alexander led the way on offence pouring in 11 points for the Mustangs including two first-quarter three-point shots. She scored five third-quarter points and helped the Mustangs defence shut out the Knights in the frame.
Caitlyn Boyd scored nine points for St. Mary’s including five in the fourth quarter.
Eight different Mustangs hit the scoresheet.
Rylee Pawlikowski drained a fourth-quarter three for the Knights, who never quite got on track.
When the Mustangs weren’t playing a zone defence they were in a full-court press and squeezing Kincardine as they carried the ball up the floor.
“The best defence is a surprising one,” said Jones. “We didn’t’ do a full-court press (in the semifinal). We knew they would be watching.”
St. Mary’s path to the championship went through BAA South Division’s top team, the Walkerton Riverhawks. The Mustangs edged the Riverhawks 32-29 in a semifinal earlier Thursday.
The Knights narrowly beat the Georgian Bay Thunder, 35-33, Thursday in a semifinal to earn their berth into the championship.
St. Mary’s finished the regular season with an 8-2 record, tied for the top spot in the north division with the Georgian Bay Thunder.
Kincardine went 6-2 trailing only the 7-1 Riverhawks at the conclusion of the regular season in the south division.
Georgian Bay, Walkerton District, St. Mary’s and Grey Highlands have all qualified for CWOSSA championships taking place next week.
RIVERHAWKS CAPTURE JUNIOR CROWN
Claire Yates scored 18 points as the Walkerton District Riverhawks topped the Sacred Heart Crusaders 55-44 to win the Bluewater Athletic Association junior girls basketball championship Thursday at Georgian Bay Community School.