Shorthanded Knights go back-to-back
Basketball: HTA outlasts Highwood 60-45 in FAC championship game
Wednesday, Mar 07, 2018 06:00 am
A mismatch on paper proved to be a robust challenge with a league championship on the line.
Holy Trinity Academy fought off a determined Highwood Mustangs attack as the Knights captured their second straight and third in the past six years senior girls basketball title in the Foothills Athletic Council by a 60-45 count in the championship game, March 3.
“Our team pushed the whole way through,” said Grade 12 Knight Kailey Morrison. “We worked together, they came out strong and I give them credit because they were with us the whole way until maybe mid-third, fourth quarter.
“Our team continued to push until we got a lead and then continued to build on that.”
Undefeated in the regular season the Knights were heavy favourites versus the 2-6 Mustangs, but the High River school was up for the challenge in the final at HTA.
“I was happy with our girls’ performance. Our girls competed very hard,” said Mustangs coach Curt Colfer. “HTA has a lot of size that we have a tough time matching up with, some talented girls that play a lot of club together. They’re a good team and we knew what we were up against coming into it … 15 points in the end is a pretty good battle in the end for us.”
The determined visitors took the lead briefly in the second quarter by a 17-14 margin, holding the Knights and dominant forward Jordan Bonertz largely in check.
“We won a bunch of 50-50 balls with them,” Colfer said. “When you take advantage of those and take advantage in the offensive zone, too, things get rolling for your team. We had it going there for about six minutes in the second quarter where we took the lead, our girls were focused and making some plays.
“In the end we gave up a few runs late in the half that cost us.”
Rachel Anderson sunk a three-pointer to kick-start a 9-0 run that put the Knights back on the front foot. Morrison hit a pair of shots in a row, the latter adding the and-one, as the hosts closed the half on a 14-4 surge and staked to a 28-21 advantage.
“When Jordan starts to get into that place we need to be able to step up and take over,” Morrison said. “So they can come off her a little bit and we can take some of the pressure she’s feeling with being double or triple teamed.”
HTA carried the momentum into the second half. Tianna Miller nailed a buzzer-beater early in the quarter while Bonertz found her shooting stroke and was virtually un-guardable for the duration of the contest.
“Jordan Bonertz is a great player. She puts up good points, works hard for that team and is a really crafty, creative player,” Colfer said. “We knew she was going to be tough to deal with and battled through the best we could.
“We were denying her the basketball a lot in the first-half and trying to limit her touches. Second half she got comfortable catching the ball in tight and had some easy finishes down low.”
Everyone got in on the act for the Knights with just seven players in the lineup.
Grade 10 Skylar Bonertz was at the centre of the Knights attack with stellar play at the point, Lauren Sinclair and Mackenzie Pender were key cogs in the paint while Miller and Anderson were threats all game with their outside shooting.
“It’s definitely rewarding, this is my first championship with the school,” Morrison said. “It’s very exciting for our team as a whole because we’ve worked hard and earned it throughout the year.”
The afternoon was rewarding for the Knights program as a whole.
HTA went 4-for-4 on championship Saturday in the FAC as the senior boys took gold over Notre Dame Collegiate while both the JV Knights teams eked out thrilling victories over Foothills Comp.
The Knights shift their focus into another zone this week. HTA battles Foothills and the host Chestermere Lakers at the 3A South Central Zone championship with the final held on March 10.
“We feel confident. It’s going to be more competition, definitely a faster paced game with strong teams,” Morrison said. “We’ve got to be ready to come in strong as we know both teams we’re playing against are very competitive teams.”