The EDSS senior girls’ basketball team captured its first-ever regional AAA championship with a 48-45 win over the St. Benedict Saints at Monday night’s final in Guelph.
The win follows a disappointing finish in the WCSSAA final in which they were defeated 42-33 by Waterloo-Oxford after a 10-0 season. It was that loss that helped propel the team to the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association (CWOSSA) championship, coach Matt Buckley said.
“I think the biggest thing for this outcome was losing that WCSSAA final. The girls had to refocus. They had to realize what they weren’t doing well, and they came out all tournament [long]. To go undefeated, with a level of competition CWOSSA offers is an unbelievable accomplishment for them,” Buckley said
“So to cap off CWOSSA with a win and get to head to OFSAA is very special,” he added of the provincials, the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations.
Senior Delaney Cortes said the team was “down in the dumps” after the Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association finals.
“But we got to practice every day after WCSSAA. We were hungry this weekend coming into it. And we really weren’t too cocky like we were in league play. This weekend we just wanted to play and have fun and push it and get better. And I think that’s exactly what we did,” Cortes said.
The final was the second game in the tournament that the Lancers beat the Saints.
“Benny’s a great team, so we knew we had to play well.… They beat us in tournament play at the start of the season by quite a lot. And then we beat them in our first game of CWOSSA. So I think that definitely gave us a little bit of confidence when playing them today. We knew they are beatable, but they’re an amazing team. It was pretty even, it could have gone either way. We just worked really hard today. We had some people who showed up more than theirs,” she said.
EDSS also beat St. John’s College 61-55 in pool play and took a victory over Waterloo Oxford in the semi-final. The Lancers didn’t let any mistakes impact them, said Kaleohana Manalong.
“I really thought that our hard work and our defense throughout this entire tournament really helped us win today. It was just great competition,” Manalong said.
The Lancers worked hard all season to achieve the CWOSSA victory, Manalong added.
“These girls on Elmira are just amazing people and players, so it’s honestly so rewarding that all the hard work really paid off,” she said.
Cortes said she “literally had shivers” about being a CWOSSA champion.
“Winning CWOSSA in my senior year, I had WCSSAA my junior year, nothing in between so we wanted to get a plaque this year somehow.”
EDSS is now off to the OFSSA championship in Belle River. The tournament will include 13 of the best AAA teams from across the province, with the 10th ranked Lancers opening today (Thursday) against fourth-ranked Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School from London. With the short turnaround, Buckley said preparation will focus on repeating the experience of the CWOSSA tournament.
“It’s more taking the lessons that we learned through this tournament and trying to apply them at an even higher level,” he said.
Continuing their hard work will be the key to success. “Whatever the outcome is, I’m just so really proud of this team,” said Manalong.
“I know we can be a good team in OFSAA. We can make it all the way to the end so we just got to work hard and keep our confidence up and keep working,” added Cortes.