Trojans claim CWOSSA
Photo by Sean Allen, Brant News
Members of the North Park Collegiate senior girls basketball team celebrate their CWOSSA win at North Park on Saturday.
As the Jacob Hespeler Hawks slowly ate away at the North Park Collegiate Trojans lead, there was no one in the gym having a harder time watching than Trojans guard Allyson DeLorenzi.
"It was nerve-wracking for everyone in the gym, but especially for me," DeLorenzi said. "We all worked so hard together on this and with me fouled out, I felt like I let my team down in a way."
But an Abbey Sayles jump shot with 20.9 seconds left on the clock gave the Trojans a lead they held onto to win the team's third consecutive senior girls Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association basketball championship.
The Trojans downed the Hawks 36-34 in a crazy fourth quarter finish to the championship game of the tournament, which was hosted at North Park Collegiate.
"I knew in my heart that they would pick it up," DeLorenzi said. "And they did it. All of them."
The tense finish to the game came quite unexpectedly after the Trojans started the contest with a 12-0 lead and had a 24-15 lead at halftime.
The Trojans carried a 33-25 lead after three quarters, but DeLorenzi had fouled out of the game.
The Hawks found new life in the final frame and were swarming any Trojans' player with the ball, grabbing every loose rebound and hitting key shots.
The Hawks sank a basket with 1:12 remaining in the game to take a 34-33 lead over North Park.
"That was stressful, very stressful," Sayles said. "They were pressuring us hardcore. They were double or triple teaming us down at the end court."
The Hawks only lead of the game lasted 52 seconds as the Trojans moved down the court and got Jessica Grant open for a long jump shot that missed. When the rebound came down, Sayles grabbed the ball and started to drive before taking a pull-up jump shot that hit nothing but net.
"I was so proud," DeLorenzi said. "Abbey Sayles has stepped up so much this year and when she scored that last shot, it was too sweet."
Sayles basket gave the Trojans a 35-34 lead that was extended when Kirsten Sowa hit a free-throw with 2.8 seconds remaining to make the final 36-34.
"It is absolutely amazing to have this feeling to win CWOSSA," Sayles said. "We've been working toward this all season."
The Trojans earned their spot in the championship game by defeating their city rivals from Brantford Collegiate Institute earlier in the day.
The upstart BCI Mustangs team finished second in their pool during play at the CWOSSA tournament on Friday with a 1-1 record and were matched up against the Trojans in the semifinals. NPC went 2-0 in pool play.
Unlike the teams' last meeting – where the Mustangs looked like they could pull off an upset against North Park – the Trojans dominated the game 52-24 to end the Mustangs season.
The Trojans will travel to Belle River, Ontario, for the provincial AAA Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations tournament starting on Thursday.
The Trojans hope to get past the quarter-finals this year – something they have failed to do during the past two years at the OFSAA tournament.
"We are going to try our best," Sayles said. "We'll put it all out on the floor and leave it there in every game."
The junior Trojans bowed out of the CWOSSA tournament on Saturday morning in the semifinals, despite winning both of their preliminary games on Friday.
The junior Trojans lost 44-42 to the Kitchener Collegiate Institute Raiders to finish their season.