By Larry Moko
The first quarter was just a sample of the kind of night Tatyanna Burke was going to have on the court at McMaster University.
In that first eight minutes, Burke accounted for all eight of the points scored by the Cardinal Newman Cardinals. And each of her baskets during the opening quarter resulted from athletic moves to the rim.
As the game went along, Burke sprinkled in a three-point basket, a handful of steals and numerous rebounds. She finished with a game-high 15 points as Newman defeated the St. Thomas More Knights, 42-31, to capture the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior girls’ high school basketball championship.
It was the second consecutive city title for the Cardinals.
With the win, Newman advances to a Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference AAA semifinal. It will be held Tuesday in Halton.
“(Burke) is a great two-way player,” Knights coach Ralph Bozzo said. “Unfortunately, she had her way with us tonight.
“She plays like a guard on the offensive side but can do it at the defensive end, too. She mans that key. Anything that goes her way she’s stopping it.”
Newman led only 15-14 at the half and took a 27-21 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Elle Cooney added 10 points for the Cardinals. Other top scorers were Katumina Mansaray, with six, and Renata Djurovcevic, with five.
The Knights got 10 points by Alliasen Miscione and eight by Kaya Charles. Grace Mahler and Julia Chiarot chipped in with five apiece.
First-place Newman was 12-0 during the regular schedule, handing second-place More its only two losses -- 47-31 and 44-20.
“They’re a really good team,” Bozzo said. “They’re athletic and they played great defence on us. We couldn’t stop their transition.
“They wanted it more than we did.”
Newman coach Roy Milutinovic said the game featured two outstanding teams. “The first half was pretty even … both sides were jittery at the beginning,” he said. “But the second half was our half. We turned it up.”
A key was the marked improvement that Newman showed from the free-throw line as the game went along. The Cardinals were 12-for-15 from the charity stripe in the second half.
“In the third quarter we got a lot of turnovers and we started making our free throws,” Milutinovic said. “That was the difference. We also put in a different press that we haven’t showed them all year. Everyone played well.”
As for Burke, the Cardinals’ coach describes her as being the “heart” of the team and its “glue.”
“It’s teamwork,” said Burke, who is considering basketball scholarship offers from Canadian and American universities. “We already have a strong connection with each other and we’re trying to build on it.”
Newman, in 2017, won its first HWCAA senior girls’ basketball title in 32 years. It then went on to capture the GHAC championship and earn a silver medal at the OFSAA tournament.
“We’re hoping to go for the gold this year,” Burke said.
Other members of Cardinals are Olivia Estrada, Alyssa Susi, Kirsten Badzioch, Alyssa Palermo, Maya Madjeric, Serena Rimac, Melissa Tougher and Jessica Paolini.