Making their first ever appearance at the OFSAA championship, the EDSS senior girls last week emerged as the eighth-best team in the province.
The Lancers opened the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations tournament with a close 56-46 loss to Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School from London, and bounced back with a 46-35 win over St. John Henry Newman from Hamilton.
“[Game one] was a completely winnable game for the girls. [They] had a couple of bad breaks and ended up losing that one, but then fought back later that night with a good win against John Henry,” said coach Matt Buckley.
The Lancers season came to an end with a 58-23 defeat to Windsor’s Holy Names High School.
“It was a very tough game and they’re a super good team. At the end of the day – before we went in, we knew we’d be playing the top level of Ontario competition – even though we suffered two losses, the teams we lost to came silver (Holy Names) and bronze (Mother Teresa). So we know we’re kind of right there in terms of Ontario and with our loss in the quarter final, it’s a top-eight finish,” Buckley added.
Getting to be among the top eight schools is an incredible accomplishment, he added.
“You really don’t realize until you look back down the road at how impressive it is to be able to go to OFSAA. And you can look around the school board at countless schools and coaches that have never had that experience in their lives.”
At start of the season, the Lancers knew they had a good team, with the girls buying into the vision that Buckley and assistant coach Montana Telfer had for them.
“Through the season, it was kind of always knowing that we’re pushing for the playoffs and we’re pushing for CWOSSA. One thing that the girls did is they bought into the idea that defense was what was going to separate us from the other good teams in our region,” said Buckley of the season that landed them in the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association playoffs.
“I think that defensive focus moving into CWOSAA is what allowed us to kind of get the wins against those high-end teams. For the season, our defense was what we wanted to hang our hats on, and the girls worked every day in practice to make sure that by the time we’re getting into the crunch time of WCSSSA, CWOSSA OFSAA, we knew that we could do that at an elite level,” he said.
The Lancers had six graduating players on their team, including Macy Weber, Kaleohana Manalong, Megan Hume, Emily Ferguson, Megan Stickney and Delaney Cortes. Their achievements are exactly what every high school athlete should want, Buckley stated.
“You would see success at the junior level, and you don’t kind of rest on the fact that you are good in Grade 9 or 10 – you work to repeat that success as a senior. For those girls in their last year, not to get the WCSSAA that they had at junior but to be able to win CWOSSA for the first time in all Elmira’s history and move to OFSAA, I think it’s just a testament to the hard work they put in to be good basketball players.”
Going into next season, Buckley is hoping to build off that success and the “hope that these seniors have given the generations coming forward.”
“In Elmira it’s not necessarily a basketball hotbed, but we have lots of talented athletes and lots of basketball players that can succeed with any other school in Ontario and compete with any other school in Ontario.”