Newman's Redemption - Cardinals Soar Over Knights

Newman's Redemption: Cardinals Soar Over Knights
Posted on 12/15/2023
Two plays go for the basket

By Larry Moko
The difference in the play of Newman’s basketball team was like Knight and day.

After a disappointing performance in their loss to the Cathedral Gaels two days earlier, the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals bounced back with an impressive 58-41 road victory over the St. Thomas More Knights Thursday.

Entering the contest, both teams had 2-1 records in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic senior boys’ high school standings.


“I think the fact that we were playing St. Thomas More helped,” Cardinals coach Andrew Sergi said. “We knew we were going to have to come in here and be at our best. Especially coming off the loss against Cathedral (46-34 at Newman) where I didn’t feel we played with much energy or passion. We were flat and we were punished for it.”

Sergi said he challenged the players at practice to do what it takes to win.

“You’ve got to be ready to play,” he said. “If you’re not prepared against any team in our league you’re going to lose.”

Newman led 12-11 at the end of the first quarter and entered the half with only a six-point advantage (25-19).

“We went on a nice run to start the third quarter (scoring 14 unanswered points),” Sergi said. “I think that was the turning point. We built off that energy.”

Beginning the final eight minutes, More faced a 45-28 deficit.

Point guard Alex DiFrancesco and forward Nick Garcia paced the Cardinals attack with 11 points apiece. Enoch Babatunde – a transfer from Scarborough – contributed 10 points, while Lucas Barresi and Nowah Annandsingh chipped in with six each.

More got 12 points by guard Noah McNeice and nine apiece by Anthony Benjamin and Thomas Connolly.

“They played physical defence and kept us out of the key,” Knights coach Stef Giovannangeli said. “We couldn’t keep them off the boards and they did a great job of finishing.”

The More coach warned his players in advance about how fired up the Cardinals would be.

“We told our guys that Newman was going to be hungry because they were just coming off a loss,” he said. “That’s a good team. They gave us their best. We just couldn’t hang with them tonight.”

The win improved Newman’s overall record this season to 9-5.

Sergi said the Cardinal “bigs” – Garcia, Barresi and Nathan Burke – deserve credit for their efforts against More.

“Those three guys helped so much,” Sergi said. “They rebounded well and right off the bat Nick Garcia scored six or eight points.

“They did a great job defensively, too, cleaning up the boards and making sure they were there to help. We made it difficult for More to have any good clean looks.”

Sergi was also pleased to see Newman running the court well and scoring in transition. “Against Cathedral,” he said, “we weren’t pushing the ball enough. We needed to push the tempo to get opportunities to score easy baskets.

“Easy scores in transition make the flow of our offence much better. And it creates open looks for our shooters.”
In other action Thursday, Cathedral (4-0) moved into sole possession of first place with a 73-54 victory over the Bishop Tonnos Titans (3-1).The St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves picked up their first win in four starts with a 70-45 decision over the winless ACMT Jaguars and the Bishop Ryan Celtics evened their record at 2-2 by defeating the St. Mary Crusaders, 61-56. St. Mary is 1-3.





Photos by Bob Butrym / RFB Sport Photography

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