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Thomas Named MVP as Cougars Defend Home Tourney



On September 30, 2012, the Notre Dame Lady Cougars defeated the Pope John Paul II to claim the 2012 edition of the Notre Dame Lady Cougars/Ajax News Advertiser Classic.

The tournament saw the Ajax, Ontario, Notre Dame team win all three games they played en route to the Championship win and improve their overall record this season to 9-1. After breezing through their Opening games against J Clarke Richardson, the Lady Cougars were put to the test against strong young Pope John Paul II Panthers team. It was a game that the Cougars needed an all-round strong effort in order to earn the Semi-Final win. And according to Notre Dame Head Coach, Rose Booker, was one her team will look back on positively.

“I was particularly pleased with our game against Pope. We ran the floor well and I thought we did an excellent job working our inside game as well as shooting from the perimeter. We played a high pressure style defense and this along with our press I feel contributed to our success,” said Booker of her team’s 55-37 win.

In this being their second tournament of the young season for the Lady Cougars, familiarity with each other is starting to solidify their team including this very tight game in which Notre Dame was only allowed to distance themselves down the stretch of the closing Fourth Quarter. The tournament’s MVP, the Lady Cougars’ own Brianna Thomas (5’10”, G, 2013), is finding that one of the keys winning was to build on the momentum that came from their previous successful experiences.

“This being our second tournament, we played well and we’re starting to play more cohesively. We brought a lot of aggression to our game. We’re trying to find ways to score and if even all of us are not playing well, we’re trying to find something deep within ourselves to bring it up and get the victory.”

That same intensity was required for the Finals which saw Notre Dame facing off against Durham District (LOSSA) Rivals, the Pickering Trojans. Last season, Notre Dame got the best of Pickering on several occasions except for one. When it counted for all of the marbles, Pickering got the last laugh in winning the District Championship and ending the Lady Cougars’ 2011 season.

By the narrowest of margins in their home tournament, Notre Dame, put it all together for the 44-40 win.

Coach Booker definitely saw this as a statement game with both teams likely to be on a collision course again at this year’s Final.

“Our win against Pickering was also an exciting game. Our two schools have a history together and both teams get up whenever we meet in a final. This game may be a preview of the LOSSA AAAA finals if both teams can continue their winning ways!”

Thomas, who scored 20 of her team’s points in the Semi-Final against the Panthers, had to dig deep once again in order for her team to the Trojans. And she did not disappoint in the Final, pouring in a game high 26 points.

Lorraine Enabulele is congratulated by Brianna Thomas (left) and other Notre Dame Lady Cougar teammates after an and-1 play.

“I think mainly it was heart,” said a satisfied Thomas, ”we wanted to win and show them that they can’t take it from us on our home court. We played hard, and found whatever we had within us to try and inch out those few last minutes so that we can stay ahead with those four points and beat them.”

Thomas, who is in her final High School year and has aspirations of playing post secondary basketball went on to describe what she thought, were the keys to her success.

“I think mainly: scoring at the most important times, playing defense and getting the stops. Also, trying to be there for my team (trying to pump them up) and just trying to bring some energy that was lacking in the game so that we could all feed off of it and find something within ourselves.

Notre Dame Lady Cougars fans have lots to be excited about also with the way the Junior Cougars also played in this same tournament. The Juniors won the Consolation Championship winning in overtime against the Dunbarton Spartans. Dunbarton had scored in the dying seconds of the game to force the extra frame.

Under the leadership of Lady Cougars’ Junior Head Coach, Dawn Gonzalez, they pulled out the victory with poise and composure. Kyiann Grimaldo (2016) went 4 for 4 from the Free Throw line, as part of her 14 points total in the game, to seal the win.

Tournament Playoff Results

Consolation Final
Notre Dame Lady Cougars JRs 52 (Kyiann Grimaldo 14) – Dunbarton Spartans 42 (Chanel Ramcharran 21)

Championship Semi-finals:
Notre Dame Lady Cougars 55 (Brianna Thomas 20) – Pope John Paul II Panthers 37 (Sammie Amoah 6)
Pickering Trojans 69 (Rochelle Reece 26) – Eastern Commerce Saints 51 (Surayya Palmer 14)

Championship Third Place:
Pope John Paul II Panthers 59 (Danielle Garven 14) – Eastern Commerce Saints 47 (Oonagh Webster 11)

Championship Final:
Notre Dame Lady Cougars 44 (Brianna Thomas 26) – Pickering Trojans 40 (Rochelle Reece 12)