Cathedral and Newman gear up for OFSAA

Cathedral and Newman gear up for OFSAA
Posted on 11/23/2023
OFSAA teams stand with banners of their school

By Larry Moko

The Cathedral Gaels are riding an 85-game winning streak as they shoot for a third-consecutive Ontario girls’ high school basketball championship on their home court this week.

The Gaels captured the last two OFSAA titles in St. Catharines and Windsor, respectively.

This year’s 16-team AAA tournament gets under way Thursday, with action at both the Cathedral and St. Thomas More gyms.

Cathedral is the No. 1 seed.

The St. John Henry Newman Cardinals, who recently faced the Gaels in both the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic and Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championship games, are seeded No. 6.

Other entries in the three-day provincial showcase event, in order of their seeding, are: St. Patrick’s Fighting Irish (Sarnia), Mother Teresa Spartans (London), Westdale Warriors (Hamilton), Pickering Trojans (Pickering), Orangeville District Bears (Orangeville), Lawrence Park Panthers (Toronto), Frontenac Falcons (Kingston), St. Roch Ravens (Brampton), St. Peter Saints (Peterborough), Eastview Wildcats (Barrie), Sir William Mulock Ravens, (Newmarket), St. Mother Teresa Titans (Nepean), Bishop Allen Cardinals (Etobicoke) and Korah Colts (Sault Ste. Marie).

All the teams gathered for the OFSAA banquet at Carmen’s on Wednesday.

“The biggest thing we learned from the last two OFSAAs is you’ll have to deal with adversity at some point … something is going to go wrong,” Cathedral coach Kevin Daly said.

“You have to be able to keep your composure. We did that in the last two. And we’re hoping to do it again.”

The Gaels opening game is at noon Thursday at Cathedral against St. Peter, while Newman also gets the ball rolling against Korah Collegiate at noon. That contest will be at St. Thomas More.

“We got a good seed,” Newman coach Roy Milutinovic said of his team’s ranking by the tournament committee. “I thought we would be anywhere between 4 and 7.”

Newman is 19-10 overall this season, with five of those losses at the hands of Cathedral.

“We’re in the toughest league in the province and we went to all the big tournaments,” said Milutinovic, who guided Newman to OFSAA berths in both 2017 and ’18.

“We told the girls at practice to enjoy it (the OFSAA banquet) but when the clock starts we’re there to play and do our best. Don’t leave anything out there. Every game is like a championship game in essence. Every game is important.”

Earlier this season Newman split a pair of games with second-seeded St. Patrick’s as well as fifth-seeded Pickering.

Daly said Cathedral’s winning streak actually stands at 85. “I had miscounted,” he said. “When you enter OFSAA you have to document every game you played.”

“This is really a special run. Hopefully, we’ve got five more in us. But we’ll see.”

According to Daly, the Gaels have done a great job stepping up defensively since veteran starter Maya Flynn was lost mid way through the schedule due to a knee injury.

“We miss Maya’s presence on the court,” the Cathedral coach said. “Defence is really the whole key to our success. If we’re not able to turn the other team over, fast break and get layups, then we’re in trouble. We know that. We’re built on defence.”

Flynn, incidentally, has returned to the bench as an assistant coach.

“It sucks to miss out on the opportunity this year,” Flynn said, “but I’m grateful to stay on as a coach.”

“Looking at the draw for OFSAA this year I don’t recognize a lot of the teams. That’s a surprise. I thought by playing in so many tournaments (four) I would have known a lot more.”

OFSAA teamsCathedral girls walk with school bannerNewman girls walk with school bannergirls spin basketball on fingerPhotos by Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography