By Larry Moko
In more ways than one, Olive Ude has come a long way as a member of the Cathedral Gaels.
The Grade 11 point guard was recently named Most Valuable Player at Cathedral’s inaugural Blue and White senior girls’ high school basketball tournament, scoring 25 points in a 50-30 championship game victory over Milton’s Jean Vanier Knights.
Ude has excelled in Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association league play, too. On Tuesday she turned in a solid defensive effort and scored a game-high 19 points to help Cathedral defeat the Crusaders, 48-35, at St. Mary.
“Olive is one of the most athletic female players I’ve seen in quite some time,” Cathedral coach Luca Fortino said.
Ude was born in Nigeria. She lived there until the age of four when her family moved to Japan. And it was just over two years ago that she arrived in Hamilton.
Cathedral Principal Mark Daly recalls meeting with Ude and her mother for the first time when they moved into the area.
“Olive only spoke Japanese when she came to my office with her mother,” Daly said. “And her report card was in Japanese.
“I told her we’ve got lots of new Canadians in our school and that she would learn English quickly. I noticed she looked athletic. The mom wanted to know if Olive could play sports here. The next thing I know she’s on the basketball court. She dominated with our junior team last year. Olive is now in her third year and is completely fluent in English.
“She’s an incredible athlete and a great person.”
In addition to her high school involvement, Ude has been selected to the Blessed Sacrament club’s JUEL squad. She also has played soccer for the Gaels.
Ude admits being initially reluctant about the move to Canada. “I couldn’t understand English,” she said. “I didn’t feel comfortable. I had lived in Japan for 10 years. My friends … everything just changed.
“The big reason we came here was because of the tsunami. I like it here now.”
Ude hopes to eventually land a basketball scholarship.
Other top scorers for the Gaels against St. Mary were Alexa Daly and Sarah Daly, with six points apiece.
Seven consecutive points by Ude sparked Cathedral to a 16-10 lead heading into the second quarter. The visitors took a six-point lead into the intermission (26-20) but the Crusaders cut the margin to three points (35-32) by the end of the third quarter. A pull-up jumper off the dribble by Ude then gave Cathedral its last basket of the contest with two minutes left.
The result improved Cathedral’s record to 4-3, while St. Mary slipped to 2-5. In other action, the Cardinal Newman Cardinals remained undefeated with a 72-50 decision over the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves and the St. Thomas More Knights (6-1) topped the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 67-14.