Lady Gens win gold at OFSSA

By Joel Charron

The General Amherst Lady Gens are OFSSA champions.

The Lady Gens captured the province’s top honour at the AA basketball level after defeating ninth seeded Barrie Central Collegiate Institute 36-31, Saturday night.

Amherst led 24-10 at halftime, however Barrie Central sliced into their lead, dwindling the deficit down to three points at the end of third quarter.


General Amherst Lady Gens: 2011 OFSAA Champions

After Barrie Central brought it within one point, the Lady Gens exploded for a 7-0 run to pull away for the win.

“Credit to our girls, a lot of teams would have folded but they just stepped up and scored the next seven points,” said Head coach Dom Silvaggio. “That was the difference in the game.”

This is the Lady Gens first OFSSA gold medal since 2007 and the eighth straight year General Amherst has medaled at the tournament.

“We worked hard all season and OFSSA gold was our goal so it felt great to accomplish it,” said Katie Breault. “It is especially special since this group of girls have been playing together for years. Winning gold is just amazing.”

The Lady Gens spent the last three years playing at the AAA level but dropped back to AA this season.

“We’re a AA school and that’s what the girls decided they wanted to play,” said Silvaggio, referring to the beginning of the season when the team took a vote on what level to play.

Silvaggio said it was defense that won them the title.

“Our matchup zone gave everyone trouble when it counted,” he said Monday morning. “Our defense definitely won it for us.”

The Lady Gens held their opponents to an average of 26.4 points per game, with 37 points being scored on them in the quarterfinals by LaSalle Secondary School.

It’s a good thing Amherst defense was up for the task because the Lady Gens had troubles adding points to the board.

“We had a little bit of trouble putting points up in a couple game,” said Silvaggio.

The Lady Gens’ first game of the tournament was Thursday against Timmins-based ESC Theriault. Amherst had little difficulty, winning 58-24 behind Kondracki’s 14 points and Breault’s 12 points.

The final game of the preliminary round for Amherst was a 49-28 win over Centennial Secondary School from Welland. VandeBovenkamp accounted for over half her team’s points, scoring 25. Breault had seven points.

Friday night’s quarterfinal saw the Lady Gens build up a big lead over LaSalle Secondary School from Kingston and never looked back. Amherst won 49-37 but had a 44-19 lead after three quarters. Katie Breault had 17 points while Kondracki scored 10.

The Lady Gens advanced to the final with a low scoring 30-12 win over St. Francis Secondary School out of St. Catherines. No player in the game scored in double digits with Amherst being led by Jaylin VandeBovenkamp with eight points while Lindsay Kondracki scored six.

In the finals, the Lady Gens came up against Kali Lukan, who has several NCAA Division I scholarship offers. Lukan’s was task was to guard VandeBovenkamp and held her to nine points.

“She shut down Jaylin,” said Silvaggio. “We managed to get her open for nine points but she had to work for all nine points.”

Silvaggio said he is  proud of the entire team and the way the yplayed through out the entire tournament.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this group, whether they won it or not,” he said. “The improvement they’ve made since the beginning of the year to the end is really a testament to their hard work.”

“It’s absoluety unreal,” said VandeBovenkamp. “I still kind of can’t believe we did it. I’ve been wearing my medal non-stop for  two days.”

Silvaggio credits the girls who work on their game in the offseason, not playing games but working on the fundamentals.

“Most of the girls worked on their game in the offseason, this is something that they have earned,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned you put that kind of effort into it they definitely earned everything they get.”

Silvaggio said it’s impossible to compare this championship squad to the other because they are so different.

“These are all different kids, they’re not the same. It’s not like a pro team where you keep players for five or six years,” he said.  “It’s hard to rank them because every team is different. They all have different personalities.”

The future looks rather bright for the Lady Gens as all 12 players could be back for another title run next season.

“This was definitely sweet,” he said. “It’s something that they will always remember.”

“It’s the best feeling you can have,” said Belcher. “Nothing else comes close.


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