A Golden Provincial Weekend
April 23, 2015 – This past weekend the Kingston Impact Bantam and Major Bantam Girls #1 teams made club history when both came home with gold medals from the OBA Provincial Championships. This marks the first time that the club has won 2 gold medals in a season.
In Brampton, the Major Bantam #1 team, coached by Jason Reynolds and Paul Coulter, entered the event seeded #7 in Division 4. The Friday night game was against London Gold Medal, a familiar opponent who had defeated the Impact in 2 out of 3 meetings earlier this season. The London team got out to a good start and led 10-5 after the first quarter, but some timely shooting by Bryn Reynolds with 6 points in the second quarter evened the score 17-17 at half time. The game was a back and forth battle the rest of the way. It ultimately came down to a tie game 35-35 with 7 seconds on the clock, Impact ball. After an Impact timeout, Alexa Sawchuk received the pass with approximately 2 seconds left. She pump faked, dribbled around her defender and casually hit a buzzer winning bank shot from 15 feet, leading Impact to a 37-35 victory.
On Saturday, against the 2nd ranked Flamborough Fire, the team followed the usual pattern getting out to a poor start. Trailing 7-4 after the first quarter, they rallied in the second but found themselves still down 17-16 at half time. Great defense, balanced scoring plus a clutch 3 by Grace Coulter to keep the Fire at bay, helped the Impact pull ahead in the second half, winning 36-28. 9 players hit the score sheet, and nobody had more than 6 points as the team moved to 2-0.
In the third and final pool game against the Etobicoke Thunder, the team got off to yet another slow start. Down 9-4 after the first, the Impact saw their deficit increase to 21-13 at halftime. Laura Mallen with 9 points, all in the second half, helped spark the Impact to a big run taking the lead for the first time with only 3 minutes to go. Finding themselves again down 1 with 53 seconds left, Kaleigh Coco made 2 free throws to take a 1 point lead. After a big defensive stop, Bryn Reynolds closed the game making both her free throws in the final seconds as the Impact held on to win 38-35.
With a 3-0 record in pool play the team earned a spot in the gold medal game against the Brantford Briers, the 8th seed who had advanced with a 2-1 record in the other pool. Contrary to the previous games, the Impact got out to an early 13-3 lead. Unfortunately the rest of the half was a struggle and the girls once again found themselves in the familiar spot of being down 1 at halftime. A determined effort by Kaleigh Coco (10 points in the second half and 14 points overall) along with some timely scoring by Laura Mallen (12 points) plus a consistent team effort defensively helped the team turn the corner. Ahead 26-22 after three, the girls never looked back and captured the gold, 40-34. Coco was named the MVP of the championship game.
In Windsor, the Bantam girls coached by Jackie and Jermaine Edwards, who were seeded #1 in Division 3, needed a little help along the way but took full advantage of their opportunity. In the Friday night game, rust from not playing for several weeks and the long travel was apparent. The girls struggled to find their rhythm and lost 48-33 to Burlington. The girls rebounded well with the Saturday morning game by stifling Tecumseh defensively winning comfortably 32-20. In their third and final pool game, the girls played one of their better games of the season with a convincing 37-24 victory over the Oakville Vytis.
They then had to wait for the result between Burlington and Tecumseh before they knew their fate. Playing both teams already there was a inclination to expect Burlington to win which would have put the Impact into the Bronze medal game. But after a close hard fought game, Tecumseh upset the favourite which allowed the Impact to play for gold.
Happy with their good fortune, the Bantam girls took full advantage of their opportunity and beat a hardnosed Timmins squad 44-40 for the gold.
In other Ontario Cup action, the Major Bantam Girls #2, coached by Kristina Daoust and Lisa Minutillo, had a rough start losing their first 2 games before bouncing back to win their final 2. With their 2-2 record, they finished a solid 5th in Division 7.
All in all another strong performance by the Impact teams at this year’s provincial championships. The club now has won 2 gold and 2 silver medals which ties for the most medals in a season since 2011 when the club won 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze.