Braves head to semis in senior girls’ basketball

Braves head to semis in senior girls’ basketball
Posted on 11/02/2023
SJB and BT basketball players

By Larry Moko

An aggressive St. Jean de Brébeuf Braves defence really applied the pressure Wednesday – with the exception of one trip down the floor.

Late in their Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic girls’ high school basketball game against the Bishop Tonnos Titans, Brébeuf defenders all backed off and allowed an uncontested shot from a player off the bench.

Ayla White of Tonnos – wearing a knee brace – sank that 3-point attempt to cap the scoring during Brébeuf’s 78-58 quarter-final playoff victory.

“Ayla is a graduating senior who has been out for two years (recovering from ACL knee surgery),” Tonnos coach Len Moccia said. “So I wanted to get her in the game as kind of a symbolic thing at the end.”

White played senior while in Grade 10. And Moccia said she got hurt during “the first 10 seconds” of her Grade 11 year.

The opposing coaches briefly discussed allowing the player courtesy just moments before a smiling White gained possession of the ball.

“She should be healthy enough for her rep season which starts in November,” the Tonnos coach added.

Excluding the intentional letdown, the Braves defence forced numerous turnovers which helped Brébeuf go on a 21-3 second-quarter run.

Brébeuf led 17-14, 43-29 and 62-41 at the quarter breaks.

The top scorers for Brébeuf were Sofia Curcio, with 17 points, Caitlin Duffy, with 16, and Lauren Smith (14).

Avery Hedley replied with 22 points for the Titans. Bridget Dinning contributed 15 points and Kynthea Bates-Hummell tossed in 12.

“Brébeuf played an amazing game,” Moccia said. “They brought energy to their home fans.

“They did a great job on rebounds. They out-rebounded us and out-hustled us.”

Brébeuf, which finished fourth in the standings, defeated fifth-place Tonnos twice during the regular season. The scores were 38-24 and 58-48.

“Rebounding has been a big story for us all year,” the Titans coach said. “Giving the other teams second-chance points.”

Brébeuf coach Micayla Barci-Drysdale was pleased with her team’s overall performance.

“Going into the playoffs, the girls really stepped it up,” she said. “Our defence was solid. In the second quarter it was huge for us.”

Regarding the Braves offence, Barci-Drysdale said: “We were making our layups and some of our free throws which we’ve struggled with all year. And it was nice to see players other than Sofia Curcio knocking down shots.”

Curcio, a Grade 11 student, led the team in scoring this season. “She’s a nitty-gritty type of kid who puts her head down, drives to the basket and makes big plays for us,” the Brébeuf coach and former captain of the Canisius College Golden Griffins said.

According to Barci-Drysdale, another key player for Brébeuf was Duffy.

“Caitlin has played for me for the past four years,” she said. “This was the best game I’ve ever seen her play. She was on fire. She was knocking down 3s and being aggressive.”

In other quarter-finals, the first-place Cathedral Gaels topped the St. Mary Crusaders, 67-25, the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals downed the ACMT Jaguars, 69-15 and the St. Thomas More Knights defeated the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 76-31.

Those outcomes set up semifinals on Monday, Nov. 6. Two-time defending champion Cathedral faces Brébeuf, while Newman takes on More.

Brébeuf was ousted by Cathedral in a 2022 semi-final.

“We’re definitely stronger than we were last year,” Barci-Drysdale said. “The camaraderie aspect has jived a little. The girls are learning their strengths with one another. They know where they are going to be and what type of passes to distribute to their teammates.”

Cathedral hasn’t lost a senior game in the past three years.SJB basketball playerSJB and BT basketball playersBT basketball player dribbles ballSJB and BT basketball players Photos by Richard Andoga