Lady Gens return to OFSAA after winning SWOSSAA thriller



SWOSSAA Daguerre SWOSSAABy Ron Giofu


General Amherst Lady Gens head coach Dom Silvaggio knew his team would have its hands full against Chatham John McGregor in the SWOSSAA AA basketball final.

That was indeed what happened as his team was in tough on the road against the Panthers but pulled out a 36-33 nail-biter.

Kayla Daguerre was the hero for General Amherst, hitting the game winning three-pointer as time expired in the fourth quarter.

“It was really an unbelievable performance by the kids,” said Silvaggio. “They wouldn’t give up.”

There were points where “it didn’t look good” but the Lady Gens overcame the odds.

“I told them to keep playing,” said Silvaggio. “They worked their hearts out, that’s for sure.”

Silvaggio said Aleah Marton led the Lady Gens with 13 points, but that came in only 11 minutes of action. Marton had four fouls in the first quarter and would eventually foul out of the game.

The Lady Gens trailed by ten points at the half but stormed back in the third quarter.

“We outscored them 14-0 in the third,” said Silvaggio. “We shut them down with our defense.”

The game went back-and-forth over the final eight-minute quarter, he added, with John McGregor scoring with roughly 40 seconds left. After Daguerre hit free throws shortly thereafter, Silvaggio said he assumed the Panthers would play for the final shot. However, the home team made an attempt with ten seconds to go and Amherst got the rebound. Once the Amherst request for a time out was recognized with one second left – Silvaggio said the coaches were asking for one as soon as they got the rebound – they drew up the game-winning play for Daguerre.

“We diagrammed a play for Kayla for coming off a double screen for a three-pointer and she nailed it,” said Silvaggio.

The Lady Gens have had close games at OFSAA and SWOSSAA in past years and Silvaggio recalled winning OBA championships with boys’ teams in the past as well.

The close game with John McGregor wasn’t a surprise, he noted, particularly with the game in their gymnasium.

“We knew we were going to have our hands full going in,” he said. “(John McGregor) has been playing good ball all year. We knew going in there to play was going to be tough.”

While the Lady Gens’ record hasn’t been as good this year as in past years, he still expects a good seed at OFSAA due to their past accomplishments and the fact many of their losses this year came against tight games against top AAA and AAAA-level teams.

Daguerre was thrilled to make the shot but equally as thrilled that she and her teammates are headed to the provincial championship.

“It’s a great feeling to go all the way of OFSAA. It’s a privilege,” said Daguerre. “It was a big team win. We’re so glad we get to go (to OFSAA) and represent our school.”

When she got the ball in the game-winning play, Daguerre said she knew there was time for a shot but when she put the ball up, she didn’t think it would go in and assumed it would bounce off the backboard and out.

“When it went in, it was insane,” she said. “It was a great feeling. I wasn’t expecting it to go in.”

Daguerre also credited her teammates for their involvement on the play.

“Jaylin (VandeBovenkamp) set a great screen for me. Without her, Olivia (Starling’s) pass and Mr. Silvaggio drawing up the play, that wouldn’t have happened,” said Daguerre.

After the shot went in, Daguerre said she was mobbed by coaches and teammates celebrating the win. She said it was the first buzzer beater she has made in her basketball career.

“It was a big win for us, coming from behind,” she said.

OFSAA is in Windsor this year and runs Thursday through Saturday.

“It’s big. We’re really excited to represent our school just outside of our hometown,” said Daguerre.

Having OFSAA so close to home should help the Lady Gens as more fans can attend to show support and offer encouragement.

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