On November 23, 2013, the Waterloo Vikings (Waterloo, ON) defeated the Westdale Warriors (Hamilton, ON) to become the 2013 OFSAA 4A Consolation Champions in Belle River, ON.
“We’re really excited to win,” said Viking Head Coach, Craig Nickel. “We’ve been comeback kids all year. Once again we managed to stage a rally.”
The Vikings have had their share of rough patches throughout their season with 9 of their 11 team members in Grade 11. But in this game, they were able to put together the last run, in a game full of momentums.
To start the game Waterloo jumped out to a 19-7 lead in the first quarter, led by Point Guard, Kaylee Anagnostopoulos’ 8 points.
But that lead that was short lived as Westdale chipped away throughout the second quarter, capped off by a five point rally that saw the Warriors actually take a slim 23-22 lead at Halftime.
“Westdale’s got a lot of weapons,” said Nickel about how Westdale was able to turn things around. “They’ve got kids that can shoot the ball, and they spread the floor on us. A couple of times we were just a little bit late in closing out, or made a bad close out that they were able to attack off the dribble. Full credit to them.”
The Warriors’ Jayanne Gaunt, playing in her final OFSAA Championship, helped her team’s cause. Gaunt scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers in the third quarter, extending Westdale’s lead by as much as 8 points.
To Coach Nickel’s credit, he was able to calm his team down and put them on the right path, executing on a key play coming out of a timeout which then led to momentum shifting his team’s way.
“We know that we’ve had so many battles with Westdale over the years: two pretty proud basketball programs. So, we knew we weren’t going to run away with anything. But our girls have shown so much resiliency here at OFSAA that in all three games that we won [to get to the Consolation Final], we trailed in the second half, and found a way to win every game.”
Finding a way to win in those games must have given them a sense of confidence down the stretch of the Consolation Final. With under two minutes to play, and no shot clock, the Vikings remained offensive minded, with Isabella Kellerman draining two big 3-pointers to help solidify the win for her team.
Not exactly how Coach Nickel drew it up in the huddle. But understanding that his team was just buying into the mantra he’s been instilling over the course of the season, he’ll gladly take the positive result.
“We commited early this year to run a different system, a five-out system, where we were going to encourage the girls to shoot. In that situation I cringed when Isabella shot it. But, were such a young team and still growing.”
“As I said to Izzy in the timeout after ‘Good thing you hit the shot,” said a relieved Nickel, “Because if you’d had missed it we’d be talking about it afterwards!’”
“That kind of confidence I think is good in a young team.”
Danielle Sauve – 16 points
Kaitlyn Bentz – 10 points
Kaylee Anagnostopolous – 8 points
Isabella Kellerman – 7 points
Jayanne Gaunt – 22 points
Mia Spadafora – 9 points