Lexi Dodds

General Amherst features two badminton champions

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pair of General Amherst badminton players won SWOSSAA titles at the junior level and helped their team win junior gold at the same level.

Lexi Dodds, a Grade 9 student, and Matteo Palumbo, a Grade 10 student, won SWOSSAA singles titles at a recent competition held at Academie Ste.-Cecile to go with the WECSSAA achievements.

Palumbo said he was against twelve players in a double-elimination tournament. He had to overcome a loss but came back through the “losers’ bracket” and was still able to win gold including beating the competitor he lost to twice. He thanked coaches Nancy Loeffler-Caro and Craig Lohnes for their efforts.

“Nancy helped me throughout the season and Mr. Lohnes came to all the tournaments to help coach,” said Palumbo.

Noting his father got him started in the sport in Grade 1, Palumbo said he “fell in love with the game” from then on.

“It’s all about strategy, what shots you want to hit,” he said. “It’s a very strategic game.”

“For me at SWOSSAA, it was basically the same competitors from WECSSAA,” added Dodds.

Coaches Craig Lohnes (left) and Nancy Loeffler-Caro (right) stand
with SWOSSAA champions Matteo Palumbo and Lexi Dodds. (Submitted photo)

Dodds said SWOSSAA was tough because she was playing against other competitors that knew her strengths and weaknesses. She said she made it to the finals, lost the first set, but managed to win the rest to claim the title.

“Especially because I’m in Grade 9, it’s a big accomplishment,” said Dodds. “I never thought I was going to make it this far.”

Dodds agreed with Palumbo that it is a strategic game.

“I like how it’s a mental game and you don’t have to be the most athletic person to win,” she said.

Palumbo stated he practices Sunday nights with Loeffler-Caro during badminton seasons as well as with the school team while Dodds said she practices mainly with the school team.

“We ended up tying for the team championship with just two players,” he added.

As they are both juniors, neither have an OFSAA tournament to advance to as that is only available at the senior level.

 

Jr. Lady Gens advance in WECSSAA “AA” volleyball playoffs

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst senior girls volleyball season may be finished, but the junior girls are still going.

The Jr. Lady Gens advanced in the WECSSAA “AA” volleyball playoffs last Thursday evening with a three-set sweep of the Essex Red Raiders in a match played at General Amherst High School. The Lady Gens, who were 8-2 in the regular season, defeated Essex 25-17, 25-20 and 25-15 to advance to the semifinals.

“The juniors have had a fantastic year,” said Jeff Miller, who coaches both the juniors and seniors at General Amherst. “Essex is way better than the ten-seed.”

The match versus the Red Raiders was good for the Lady Gens as they had to work for the victory.

“We played a really good, solid match to beat them,” Miller stated. “If we were sloppy, they could have knocked us off.”

Lexi Dodds hits the ball back over the net during General Amherst’s junior girls volleyball match with Essex Feb. 8.

General Amherst is the second seed in the WECSSAA “AA” playoffs and hope to eventually meet the top seed.

“The expectation is we want to be in the WECSSAA final and get another chance at Sandwich and put a scare into them,” said Miller.

This year’s junior Lady Gens team has been a pleasant surprise for coaches Miller and Christine Belcher.

“I thought we’d be a pretty solid group but I didn’t think we’d be second out of everybody,” said Miller.

The senior Lady Gens host the OFSAA “AA” championships next year and Miller believes that team will be “marketedly improved” as they will enter the provincial tournament as the host team.

The senior team will lose about five players to graduation but will have five returning players plus an influx of talent from this year’s junior team. The senior Lady Gens were eliminated from the WECSSAA playoffs in three sets last Tuesday, losing 25-18, 25-23 and 25-19 at Tecumseh Vista Academy. Miller said the seniors started playing better after the Christmas break but illness and injury didn’t help either.

“Unfortunately it was a little bit too late,” he said.

Lady Gens lose 41-28 in first game of WECSSAA Tier 1 season

 

By Ron Giofu

The General Amherst Lady Gens hope to bounce back after not winning a WECSSAA Tier 1 basketball game last year and there were positive signs last week.

However, they still were on the short end of a 41-28 defeat to the Kennedy Clippers.

General Amherst’s Taja Holmes goes in for a layup during second half action last week against the Kennedy Clippers. General Amherst lost their season opening game 41-28.

The Lady Gens trailed by one point midway through the second quarter but a spurt late in the quarter by Kennedy gave the Clippers at 31-17 at halftime. General Amherst outscored Kennedy 11-10 in the second half but it wasn’t enough.

“There were some positives and some negatives,” said General Amherst head coach Dom Silvaggio.

One of the negatives was the Lady Gens being too lackadaisical, he said.

“We’ve got to start getting more aggressive,” said Silvaggio.

Madison Pillon of General Amherst reaches back for the basketball during the Lady Gens game against Kennedy last week. The Lady Gens host a pair of games this week.

Silvaggio said they settled too much for outside jump shots instead of looking to go inside.

When Kennedy expanded their lead in the second quarter, Silvaggio said the Lady Gens couldn’t overcome it as the players haven’t developed enough as basketball players to this point.

“Right now, we’re just not there yet,” he said. “It’s good to see we are ahead of where we were last year.”

General Amherst’s Lexi Dodds battles for a rebound in the second quarter of last week’s game against the Kennedy Clippers. A second quarter offensive surge by the Clippers proved to be too much as they ended up defeating General Amherst 41-28.

The Lady Gens are still learning at the defensive end, he added, and have to learn when they can go for steals and when they can’t. Silvaggio said they aren’t running their offense properly all the time either. He believes there is some “angst” among the players holding them back from being as good as they can be.

“There is still a learning curve,” he said. “From the first game at the Western tournament to now, we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. We need to turn it around and have two steps forward and one step back.”

An interesting side note to the game was that it was Silvaggio versus Silvaggio on the sidelines with Stephen Silvaggio, Dom’s son, coaching the Clippers. They had also coached each other last year. The elder Silvaggio remarked that his son knows what he is going to do during games so it is a challenge to come up with new ways to try and beat his team, but noted that Stephen’s team at Kennedy has a bright future.

Danielle Brindley of General Amherst dribbles along the baseline during fourth quarter action against Kennedy. It was the first game of the WECSSAA Tier 1 senior girls basketball season for the Lady Gens.

“He’s got a good, young team,” said the Amherst coach. “He’s going to be competitive. They are one of the teams we have to beat for the (WECSSAA) ‘AA’ championship.”

The Lady Gens are at home versus Lajeunesse Tuesday at 4 p.m. General Amherst will then host Gens host St. Anne Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Lady Gens compete at University of Western Invitational

 

Special to the RTT

The General Amherst senior girls’ basketball team took part in the 32-team University of Western Invitational this past weekend.

In their opening game Amherst ended up on the short end of a 46-41 score in a highly competitive game against St. Thomas Aquinas from London. Lexi Dodds hit 13 of 14 of her free throws and ended up with a game high 31 points. Also scoring for Amherst were Ramie Tytgat with five, Dani Brindley with three and Taja Holmes with two points.

In their next game against Brantford Assumption, General Amherst trailed only by three at the half but had trouble finding the bottom of the basket in the second half and lost 38-25. Tytgat and Dodds had five points each in the game followed by Hannah Bauer with four and Holmes, Brindley and Emma Marshall all had three points each. Alyssa Herd rounded off the scoring with two points and Madison Pillon led the team in rebounds.

In their final game of the tournament, General Amherst led 31-11 after three quarters and coasted to a 39-21 victory over Waterloo Collegiate. Taja Holmes played a strong defensive game and led the team in steals. Lexi Dodds paced the scoring with 19, Dani Brindley had six, Emma Marshall had five, Madi Pillon had three and Taja Holmes, Breana Farias and Hannah Bauer all had two points each.

Amherst will have an exhibition game this Thursday against Brennan at home at 4:15 p.m.