Trojans pull off upset
Two weeks ago, Bruno Corbin warned everyone not to count out the Churchill Trojans.
The Hammarskjold Vikings coach’s prediction came true — and it pushed his team a game away from elimination in the Thunder Bay high school senior girls basketball playoffs.
Anna Kamerman scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter as Churchill upset the second-ranked Vikings 48-45 on Thursday night.
Laura Houlton and Courtney Brewer added nine each for the Trojans, who have won their first two games in the double-elimination and will next face the St. Ignatius Falcons, the undefeated and defending city champions, in the third round next week with a trip to the city finals on the line.
Since the start of the season, the Trojans had been billed as the third-ranked team behind the Vikings and Falcons, who collectively were unbeatable against the rest of the league.
“It’s definitely important for us,” said Churchill co-coach Paul Wojda, whose team had lost their two previous meetings against Hammarskjold. “We’ve been waiting quite a while to play a complete game. Hammarskjold is a quality team. The score reflected that at the end. In terms of our defence, I think it’s the strongest defensive game we’ve played all year.”
Shannon McKitrick led the Vikings with 15 points, while Aliisa Heiskanen added 14. High-scoring centre Gillian Lavoie was held to six points and couldn’t find her groove all game, fouling out early in the fourth quarter as Hammarskjold was clinging to a four-point lead.
“When (Lavoie) went out we looked to go to Anna a little bit more inside,” Wojda said. “Anna stepped up for us big at the end.”
Kamerman hit three consecutive buckets inside to pull the Trojans ahead 41-39. The Vikings took the lead again on McKitrick’s deep three with 3:51 remaining in the game. Houlton, with a steal and drive, and Heiskanen traded baskets before Kamerman split her free throws to tie the game at 44-44.
Kamerman put down another lay-up in traffic and then two more free throws to salt the victory away. She let out a heavy sigh of relief as the last shot fell through to make it a two-possession game with under 30 seconds left in regulation.
“Oh my gosh, yes,” said Kamerman. “It felt good. I knew after that we just had to play strong defence which is good.”
The Vikings, meanwhile, turned the ball over twice on their last two chances for the tying- or go-head score. They had their chances to put Churchill away in the first quarter when they zipped out to a 9-0 lead and the Trojans came up empty on their first eight possessions.
“Our philosophy was if we could play tough defence throughout the game, our shots were going to start falling,” Wojda said. “We missed a couple of easy looks early on, but all of our girls stepped up and hit some crucial shots.”
Now 1-1 in the playoffs, Hammarskjold needs a win against the St. Patrick Saints (0-1) to stay alive.
Earlier Thursday, Katelyn Andrea scored 26 points as the Falcons dumped No. 4 Westgate 77-16. The Tigers (1-1) also face a do-or-die game next week against Superior Collegiate (0-1).
The city’s high school junior girls hoops playoffs are also approaching the knockout phase. On Thursday, Jane Luft and Amanda Walberg combined for 22 points for the Falcons in a 41-21 win over Superior, while Whitney Scott’s 13 points helped Westgate edge St. Patrick 39-30.
Sophie Cation was the Saints’ top scorer with nine points. Next week, Superior meets Churchill and St. Patrick battles Hammarskjold in a pair of elimination games.
Meanwhile, the senior and junior boys volleyball leagues tied a bow on the regular season on Thursday. The Churchill Trojans will enter the senior playoffs as the defending champions with a perfect 12-0 record after sweeping La Verendrye, 25-9, 25-17, 25-16. St. Ignatius (9-3) and Westgate (7-5) round out the top three seeds.
In the junior division Thursday, Westgate clipped St. Patrick 25-16, 25-19 and 23-25, to tie them for third in the city standings at 6-6. St. Ignatius (11-1) and La Verendrye (10-2) are No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively.
Today, the senior football semifinal matches will be set as Churchill (5-0-1) and Hammarskjold (5-1) grind it out to determine the top seed at 5 p.m. at Fort William Stadium.
The Falcons (1-4-1) have a slim shot at earning the fourth-and-final berth, but need a Westgate (2-4) loss to Superior Collegiate (0-6) in the 3 p.m. game followed by a victory of their own over St. Patrick in the evening contest.
The Saints (4-1) are set in the third spot.