Centennial, Nicholson teams both earn OFSAA girls basketball silver medals

This story was published in the Winter 2023 issue of Total Sports Quinte magazine

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Media

Belleville teams earned double-silver at provincial high school girls basketball championships in late November.

Both seeded second in their respective tournaments, the Centennial Secondary School Chargers claimed silver at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations girls ‘AA’ championship tournament Nov. 24-26 in Stratford while the Nicholson Catholic College Crusaders were the runner-up at the OFSAA girls ‘A’ showdown the same weekend in Walkerton.

“It was amazing that two teams from our area came home from OFSAA with silver medals,” said Maren Edgett, who coaches the Chargers with Liane Woodley. “I missed out on all of my daughter’s games who goes to Nicholson. That was tough, but I couldn’t be more pleased for both teams.”

Nicholson’s Justin Walsh, who coaches the Crusaders with Tim Coates, also offered kudos to

“A big congrats to Centennial with silver at double-A, too,” Walsh said. “I think their performance speaks to how well basketball is being played in our area.”

Centennial won the Bay of Quinte championship at Loyalist College on Nov. 10, defeating Nicholson 60-34, and captured the Central Ontario Secondary School Athletics title with a 62-26 win over the Crestwood Secondary School Mustangs in Peterborough on Nov. 17 to advance to the OFSAA tournament.

“We had a goal since some of this team was in grade nine to get to OFSAA. We missed it last year, but were close,” Edgett said. “This year the girls were all in with our goals of getting to OFSAA. They never stopped focusing on it and I think that the further we got along in our season the more we began to realize that this could be a definite possibility.”

A tournament win in Renfrew during the season altered the Chargers’ mindset for their OFSAA goals. Coaches in Renfrew suggested to Edgett that Centennial could be ranked high at the provincial championship if they made it.

“At this point we talked to our team about adjusting their goal. We no longer wanted to just get to OFSAA, we wanted to compete (for a championship) at OFSAA.”

Centennial was undefeated during the local Bay of Quinte season while also winning two tournaments and claiming silver in another, leading to the No. 2 ranking in the OFSAA tournament.

They opened the provincial championship with a 69-20 victory over No. 12 T.A. Blakelock and followed it up with wins of 52-33 over No. 4 Lo Ellen Park and 50-16 against No. 10 Kingsville.

In the semifinals, the Chargers edged No. 6 Hammerskjold 52-50 before falling to the No. 1 ranked Sir Winston Churchill 46-34 in the gold medal game.

Edgett said it was the biggest test Sir Winston Churchill faced in the tournament. The Chargers battled illness and injury but put up a valiant effort.

“It was a tough tournament both mentally and physically and Centennial is proud to hold silver medals,” Edgett said. “These girls played with heart and never stopped. Being a coach can be difficult, but seasons like this make it all worthwhile.”

After losing in the Bay of Quinte final to the ‘AA’ Chargers, Nicholson went on to win the COSSA ‘A’ championship 61-15 over Norwood. The Crusaders qualified for OFSAA again after earning silver at the previous year at the provincial championship

Nicholson had five players return to this year’s OFSAA tournament to join a strong group moving up from the junior level as well.

The No. 2 Crusaders defeated No. 12 Lageunesse 53-40 in their opening game before earning a lopsided 72-25 victory over No. 15 St. Thomas Aquinas.

In the quarterfinals, Nicholson narrowly held on for a 38-36 win over No. 7 Osgoode, a tough and physical team from the Ottawa area.

Facing No. 3 Woodland Christian in the semifinals, the Crusaders put pressure on their opponent and shot the ball better in a 43-34 victory.

“It was a good win for us to get us to the final,” Walsh said.

In the gold medal contest, the Crusaders faced a strong No. 4 seed St. Mary from Brockville who had a lot of depth with eight Grade 12 players. St. Mary defeated Nicholson 52-44.

“We got a little tired, hung right with them,” Walsh said. “We tried to play a special defence on their best player in the third quarter and that hurt us because the other players on the team started hitting shots when we were focused on their best player. We made a push in the fourth and lost by eight.”

Capturing a second straight silver medal was a great experience for the players, who knew the history of Nicholson competing and succeeding at OFSAA basketball championships on both the girls and boys sides, Walsh noted.

“Once there, just the experience of travelling as a team, being away, having the fans travel with us, having the fans back here in Belleville watch the games online and having the messages come out after the games about how proud the families and friends were, they’ll remember that I think for a long time,” he said.

Members of the Nicholson Crusaders who won silver at OFSAA were: (front, from left) Analyz Baclig, Ericah Baclig, Evelyn Shakell, Grace LaCroix, Grace Crawford, Charlotte Farrell; (back) coach Tim Coates, Sarah Paul, Sam Milne, Bella Cowling-Zeljkovic, Ella Koughan and coach Justin Walsh. (OFSAA photo)