Northern senior girls win bronze medal at provincials

The Northern Collegiate senior girls basketball team, seen here after claiming the Lambton-Kent title are, from left, back row: Coach John Thraser, Coach Mark Woodhouse, Emma Cowan, Hannah Elliott, Jamilah Dent, Fiona Elliott, Laneigh Shirley, Coach Kendel Ross, and Coach Andrew Westlake; front row: Jessica Milne, Rebecca King, Emma Wells, Cassidy Hirtle, Claire Arthurs and Lauren Harding. Bruce Smith, Special to The Journal

Troy Shantz

Northern Collegiate’s senior girls basketball team won a bronze medal at the all-Ontario championships on Nov. 23.

The AAA squad defeated Etobicoke’s Richview Collegiate 52 – 30 to finish third overall at OFSAA.

The Vikings went undefeated in league play this season and lost just one game at the three-day round robin in Mississauga featuring the top teams in Ontario.

Northern finished the season, including tournament play, with a record of 33 win and four losses.

“We had maybe one of the two or three best players in the province — that sure helps. Then the other five or six kids… are very good,” head coach John Thrasher told The Journal.

“We’re big and we’re fast and we’re very good defensively. That was the difference.”

Ranked fourth in Ontario heading into the tournament, Northern cruised through the first two games with little resistance. The quarterfinal match against 5th-seeded Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School could have gone either way, Thrasher said.

“I think this is the fifth time that we played (Holy Cross) at OFSAA since I’ve been coaching girls, and every game was (close),” Thrasher of the 48-46 Northern win.

Things got tougher in the semi-finals against Hamilton’s St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School. Northern jumped into an early lead but the province’s top seed clawed back into it, Thrasher said.

A late game foul gave St. Thomas More a pair of free throws and the Vikings never recovered, falling 62-56.

St. Thomas More went on at the finals to handedly defeat Orillia Secondary School, a team Northern “clobbered” twice at tournaments this season, Thrasher noted.

“We were the second-best team in the province. We know that,” said Thrasher. “But we got bronze and we’re totally happy getting bronze.”

Northern guard Cassidy Hirtle scored 29 points in the medal-winning game, and strong defensive play by Leneigh Shirley held Richview’s scoring star to just five points, Thrasher said.

Northern’s senior girls made it to the quarterfinals at last year’s provincials.