Dom Silvaggio

Outlook improved for General Amherst senior girls basketball team

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Wins have been tough to come by for the General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls basketball the last couple of seasons but things appear to be looking up.

Bolstered by an increased number of girls trying out, the team appears to be heading back in the right direction. Head coach Dom Silvaggio said the players that have tried out all have basketball experience.

“Our depth is going to be better than the last few seasons,” said Silvaggio. “Now we have to get them to the next level and get them used to a level they’re not used to playing at.”

General Amherst coach Dom Silvaggio speaks to the senior girls basketball team at a practice last week.

The first couple of weeks of the season will be used to help define where people will play with Silvaggio stating that the increased depth gives him increased options of who to put on the floor.

“It’s a step back to where we used to be,” said Silvaggio. “People will have to earn playing time. We’re definitely headed in the right direction.”

The increase in players means practices are more competitive as well, he continued, and that they can work on more things. Silvaggio added that a difference can be seen in the players who have been turning out to practice consistently.

“I see a dramatic improvement in the kids that have been coming out,” said Silvaggio.

There are six players back from last year’s Lady Gens team – Taja Holmes, Ramie Tytgat, Lexi Dodds, Emma Marshall, Dani Brindley and Maddie Pillon – with Holmes and Tytgat being Grade 12 players. The bulk of the team is made up of Grade 11 players, though there are some Grade 10 athletes.

The Lady Gens will compete in the WECSSAA Tier 1 division again this season and while they were 1-7 in league play last year with an additional playoff win, Silvaggio said many of the games were competitive.

Ramie Tytgat takes a shot during a senior girls basketball practice at General Amherst High School Sept. 6.

“Hopefully, we’ll take one more step this year and see if we can earn a few more wins,” he said.

When playoffs roll around and the Lady Gens are matched up with their “AA” level counterparts, Silvaggio believes they will be in the mix with Essex, Kennedy and Kingsville for a title.

“It’s going to be a dogfight between those four teams,” he said.

As of press time, the 2018 WECSSAA Tier 1 schedule had not been posted on www.wecssaa.com.

 

Local coach to be inducted into Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A coach who has led General Amherst High School basketball teams to numerous boys and girls championships is getting a significant honour himself.

Domenic Silvaggio will be inducted into the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame this fall. The news went public last week that Silvaggio will be part of the class of 2018.

Silvaggio got the word in late-June that he was likely to be inducted this year and the official word came last week. He will be inducted as part of the builder’s category.

“It was kind of nice to hear, that’s for sure,” he said.

Silvaggio added he was at a “loss for words” when the call came that he was a soon-to-be Hall of Famer.

“There’s been quite a few people asking me about it (in past years),” he said. “I said it’s something I have no control over. If it comes, it comes.”

Now that the honour has come, Silvaggio is sharing it with many of his peers. That includes many coaches within the elementary and the Amherstburg Basketball Club system especially those who were involved with both systems including Karl Wightman, Frank Palumbo, Vic DiNardo, Jim Belcher, Dale Prisley, John VandeBovenkamp, Tim Dodds, Amy Bondy and Brad Bondy.

Among those that helped him along the way have also included Ross Scott, Mike Nedin and Dave Scott.

“These guys were influential in getting me into coaching,” he said.

Nicole Rusenstrom was also thanked for her help with teams in recent years.

Special thanks was given to Greg Scott and Don Parks, who were recognized for their many years of coaching with Silvaggio. He also recognized his son Stephen, who both played and coached with him and now has his own basketball program at Kennedy.

“All the coaches should be sharing this with me as well,” he said.

General Amherst coach Dom Silvaggio (centre) goes over a play during a timeout of a Nov. 2017 game against Kennedy. Silvaggio’s accomplishments over his coaching career have landed him a spot in the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be in October.

Fundraisers for the local basketball programs have included Ross Scott, Parks, Greg Scott and Palumbo plus the many players and parents that helped out.

Parents have also been of great help over the years.

“They always had my back, driving the kids to all parts of Ontario,” he said.

The players were also thanked, with Silvaggio noting that none of the championship teams he has coached would have been possible without the hard work of the players. He recalled championship teams that would win a tournament on a Saturday and come home and want to practice on the Sunday.

“That’s the dedication and drive they had,” said Silvaggio. “Without that, you aren’t going to win anything.”

While the dedication of players and parents were pointed out, so too were the efforts of his fellow teachers and administrators as well.

“It makes my job a heck of a lot easier when you have that,” he said.

Silvaggio gave special thanks to his family, including wife Susan, son Stephen and daughter Kim. Kim also played for her father during her time at General Amherst.

“Without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to put in the time,” he said. “There were a lot of weekends away, that’s for sure.”

Among the accomplishments on Silvaggio’s resume include 26 WECSSAA/ECSSAA championships between boys and girls basketball teams. He has coached 13 SWOSSAA championship teams and the senior girls program he has overseen won ten consecutive medals at OFSAA at either the “AA” or “AAA” level, including five gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals at the provincial championship tournament.

Silvaggio’s teams have also won two gold medals and one silver at the senior boys Ontario District High School Championships and two golds in Division 2 at the Basketball Ontario Cup boys championship with the Amherstburg Basketball Club.

Silvaggio has won the most basketball OFSAA championships and medals as a coach in the Windsor/Essex area. His league and playoff win totals at the high school level top 600 and that number swells to 1,000 overall wins when tournaments are factored in.

The 2006 General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls team was selected as the top high school team of the year regardless of size by a committee of coaches and administrators from throughout Ontario.

In 2007, the senior girls won the Super 12 tournament which included the eventual OFSAA “AAAA” gold, silver and bronze medal winners as well as the OFSAA “AAA” gold, silver and bronze medal winners for that year. The Lady Gens won the “AA” gold that year.

From 2004-2013, the General Amherst senior girls basketball team had a record of 197-9 in WECSSAA, SWOSSAA and OFSAA league and playoff games. Silvaggio said most of those were at the Tier 1 level after WECSSAA started the tier system. Those teams had a 45-5 record in OFSAA play during that time span to go along with their ten straight medals.

Silvaggio was one of the founders and president for over 20 years of the Amherstburg Basketball Club. He said the Amherstburg Basketball Club was started to enhance and promote the game of basketball for the youth who lived in the Amherstburg area.

One of the teams Domenic Silvaggio (far right) coached to an OFSAA basketball championship were the 2011 General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls team (File photo – Special to the RTT)

“There were hundreds of children who played either house league or travel or both,” he said. “Many of the youth who were a part of this program probably would not have played basketball at the competitive and house league level if not for this club.”

Silvaggio believes he is one of only three high school basketball coaches to go into the Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be Oct. 19 at the Ciociaro Club.

Since the news went public, Silvaggio added he has been receiving many messages of congratulations.

“It’s nice,” he said. “It’s an honour but I’d like to share this with all of the other coaches.”

Other inductees into the Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame include Paul Carter (basketball), J. Paul Reddam (horse racing) and Don Marrin (wrestling) in the builder’s category; golfer Cheryll Damphouse, boxer Mary Spencer, hockey player Andy Delmore and basketball player Richard Shaw going in as part of the athletes category.

The Tecumseh Baseball Club and the 2011-15 University of Windsor Lancer women’s basketball team will be inducted under the club and team category.

 

 

Lady Gens eliminated from WECSSAA “AA” playoffs in semi-finals

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Lady Gens got to the WECSSAA “AA” playoff semi-finals but could advance no further.

The Lady Gens hosted the Sandwich Sabres last Tuesday night and won 40-31 to advance to the semi-finals Thursday night at Kennedy. In that Thursday night semi-finals, a second quarter surge by the Clippers doomed the Lady Gens and led to Kennedy defeating General Amherst 50-27.

The Lady Gens led 11-6 late in the first quarter but a pair of late three-pointers put Kennedy up 12-11 at the end of the eight-minute quarter. Those three-pointers were part of a 15-0 run the Clippers went on and that 15-0 run was part of an overall 24-2 run that closed the first half and gave Kennedy a 30-13 lead.

General Amherst’s Taja Holmes (22) lays in two of her nine points during last Thursday night’s
WECSSAA “AA” semi-final game against the Kennedy Clippers.

The Lady Gens played better in the second half but weren’t able to recover from the second quarter.

“I told them before the game that you can’t let them get on a run,” General Amherst head coach Dom Silvaggio said.

The last 30 seconds of the first quarter was the turning point of the game, he believed. The second quarter was a bad quarter and having a bad quarter per game was a problem this season for Amherst.

“In the second quarter, we just sucked. There’s no other way to say it,” he said.

The Lady Gens reverted to poor habits they were doing earlier in the season, including passes that would not connect. Silvaggio, who was coaching against his son Stephen in the Kennedy game, said his son told him that Kennedy wasn’t doing anything special in the second quarter but it was turnovers by Amherst that helped swing the tide towards the Clippers.

Lexi Dodds scored 12 points against Kennedy while Taja Holmes scored nine points.

The quarterfinal game against Sandwich saw Dani Brindley score 11 points while Brooklyn Prescott had ten points. Dodds and Holmes had eight and seven points respectively. Ramie Tytgat had five points.

“We played an excellent first half,” Silvaggio said after the Sandwich game. “In the second half, we didn’t have that extra step. Sandwich switched defenses and we didn’t run our offense.”

Brooklyn Prescott drives to the basket during the second half of the Nov. 2 playoff game at Kennedy.

The Lady Gens’ defensive intensity was better in the first half of the Sandwich game, Silvaggio added.

A positive sign from this season was a lot of players that received a lot of playing time, about six in total, will return next year.

“There are quite a few kids that improved a lot,” said Silvaggio.

The team will likely have more players to choose from next year and Silvaggio hopes for more consistency out of them.

“If we can get 32 minutes out of them, I think we’ll be good,” he said.

Silvaggio urged the players to work in the offseason at improving their games otherwise improvement will be stunted.

“If they are not going to put in the work in the offseason, we’re not going to get any better,” he believed.

This year’s Lady Gens were a respectful and good group to coach, he added.

Dani Brindley lunges after a loose ball during the fourth quarter of last Thursday’s WECSSAA semi-final game at Kennedy.

“I’d like to thank them for that,” said Silvaggio. “They were enjoyable for us to coach.”

Silvaggio, joined on the sidelines this season by Don Parks and Nicole Rusenstrom, believed that playing in WECSSAA Tier 1 was productive. They went 1-7 in the regular season but the caliber of play helped develop the players and should prove beneficial in the long run, he indicated.

“I am happy we played in Tier 1 this year, because even though we didn’t win many games, we were competitive in every game but one,” he said. “It also forced us to play at a quicker pace and we got to play a higher caliber of basketball, which will help us for the next couple of years. There was a big difference in the caliber of ball between the tiers.”

Lady Gens pick up first victory of the season

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Lady Gens senior girls basketball team recorded its first victory of the WECSSAA Tier 1 regular season and hopes to build on that in the playoffs.

The Lady Gens were 0-7 heading into last Thursday afternoon’s game at Sandwich but the Sabres were also winless heading in. In the end, it was General Amherst coming away with a 53-41 win.

“We didn’t start out that well and trailed 10-2 at the end of the first quarter. We made a run late in the second quarter and closed the deficit to 18-17 by halftime,” said General Amherst head coach Dom Silvaggio. “We then played a strong second half and out scored them 36-23 to win 53-41.”

Taja Holmes had 11 points while Brooklyn Prescott, Lexi Dodds, Ramie Tytgat and Dani Brindley all had ten points each.

“This game was typical of our season where we have one bad quarter, this game being the first quarter,” said Silvaggio. “The only difference was in this game we scored enough points to make up for the bad quarter. We hit six three-pointers which helped. We also starting taking the ball to the basket which helped us getting to the free throw line more than we normally do.”

Silvaggio said they received a bye for the first round of the playoffs and host Sandwich Tuesday at 5 p.m. The juniors also play Sandwich, with that game scheduled at General Amherst at 3:15 p.m.

“Sandwich was missing a very important starter last (Thursday) night, so for us to beat them again we will have to play like we did in the second half and can’t have a bad quarter,” said Silvaggio.

Lady Gens come close against Villanova in one of two games last week

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Lady Gens were close to their first victory of the season last Tuesday but fell just short.

The Lady Gens went to Villanova but were defeated 42-38 in overtime. The game saw the Wildcats take a 20-17 lead at the half with Amherst tightening it to 27-25 after three quarters. With four minutes to go, Dani Brindley put the Lady Gens up 32-31 with the fourth quarter going back-and-forth the rest of the way.

Villanova had a 38-35 lead but Ramie Tytgat’s three-pointer with five seconds left in regulation put the game into overtime. However, Tytgat’s three-pointer would be the last points the Lady Gens would score as Villanova outscored the Lady Gens 4-0 in the four-minute overtime period.

General Amherst’s Lexi Dodds (35) drives to the basket during second half action last Tuesday at Villanova. The Wildcats defeated the Lady Gens 42-38 in overtime.

Lexi Dodds led Amherst in scoring against the Wildcats with 14 points while Brindley had 11 points. Tytgat scored nine points.

“There were crucial mistakes we made,” said General Amherst coach Dom Silvaggio. “In the first half, our defensive rebounding was non-existent. Out of (Villanova’s) 20 points, 14 of them came on second shot opportunities.”

Silvaggio believed the Lady Gens did a better job rebounding in the second half but added they also had problems with their shot selection.

“I think it comes down to making the right decisions when to shoot and when not to shoot,” said Silvaggio, adding there were three shots in the overtime period the Lady Gens took when they shouldn’t have.

The effort was better in two of the last three games, he said after the Villanova game.

“They didn’t quit,” said Silvaggio. “That’s good to see.”

The Lady Gens dropped to 0-7 on the season two nights later in a game at first-place Holy Names. The Knights knocked off the Lady Gens 42-22 with Holy Names improving to 5-1 with the win.

Taja Holmes scored nine points in the game for the Lady Gens.

General Amherst’s last scheduled regular season game is Thursday afternoon at Sandwich. The Sabres were 0-6 at press time.