Senior Hawk hoopsters advance to Kawartha’s with OT win

By Terrance Gavan – Reprinted from County Voice

They ain’t called wild card tourneys for nuthin’.
   Six schoolgirl teams – three seniors and three juniors – gathered at the Red Hawks’ Nest on Tuesday (Nov 9) battling for three spots at the Kawartha Zone championships, which begins tomorrow.
   Two teams moved on from the senior pool and only one advanced from the junior side.
Clarke, Kenner and Hal High lined up on the senior side of the play-in tournament
The Hal High juniors hosted Holy Cross and Cobourg West.
   Several tie-breaker scenarios were embedded in the wild card template, but no formulaic pursuit was necessary for the juniors. The strong Holy Cross Hurricanes out of Peterborough ran the table – winning both contests – and qualified outright for the Kawartha junior finals.
   On the senior side, both Kenner and the Hal High Red Hawks (who qualified by virtue of their 38-36 win in overtime over Clarke in the day’s final game) are advancing to tomorrow’s tourney which is slated for Cobourg West HS.
   Hal High coaches Brett Caputo and Sharon Dibblee ran an impeccable tourney.
   Both Dibblee and Caputo share bench chores with both teams. Caputo is responsible for the senior club and Dibblee handles the juniors.
   Caputo was especially gratified and popped huge props to all his girls for some outstanding play.
   “We scored 30 points in our first game – a 44-30 loss to Kenner – and that was their best offensive performance of the year,” said Caputo just prior to the second contest against Clarke.

    Caputo said that his girls held their own in that first game, distributing the ball and playing great defense. “We were only down two – 18-16 – in the first half, but we ran out of energy in the second,” said Caputo.
   The junior wild card was essentially over as soon as Holy Cross won its second game.
   But in an exciting final game against Cobourg West, with nothing but pride on the line, the junior Hawks staunchly refused to quit.
   They were playing a taller Cobourg contingent, but made up for that lack of physical presence with a withering and smothering defensive attack.
   Guards Casey Pringle and Kayla Gardiner, a dynamic, diminutive backcourt duo, fronted that juke and jive, steal-oriented defense with a hustling three-quarter court presence. A spate of very cold shooting in the first half forced the hawks to redouble their defensive efforts.
   The game not only went down to the final seconds, it actually dragged out to a no-time free throw drama with Pringle center stage on the charity stripe.
   The game ended with the Hawks trailing 22-20, but a whistled foul as the horn went gave Pringle a crucial bonus try.
   With time out Pringle was left alone on the line for the one-and-one.
   Hit the first and she gets a second.
   Unfortunately Pringle missed on that first bonus try and the game, and their stellar season, ended there.
   The junior girls lost their first game 42-29 loss to Holy Cross.
   “In that first game against Holy Cross we had a shaky start,” said Dibblee. “Holy Cross put on an intense full court press for the first quarter. But the girls settled down and adjusted their game to beat the press with some beautiful passing plays. We moved the ball rapidly up the floor and had some good scoring chances.”
   Julia Fedeski led the Hawks with eight points. Megan LaPierre, Jaimie Dack, and Bailey Walker all added four each. Jessica Rider contributed 3 points. 
   They trailed Cobourg West 10-1 after the first quarter, and trailed 10-6 at the half.      
   “That sluggish first quarter cost us in the end,” said Dibblee. Casey Pringle, Jaimie Dack, Megan LaPierre, and Jessica Rider all had four points in the second contest.
   Of course the continuing saga of that little engine that could – and now did – refuses to be derailed.
   Remember that the senior Hawks’ season was in jeopardy at the start of the year.
   Caputo says that four brand new girls answered the call and it’s been a bit of a storybook dance since those raw beginnings.
   The Hawks did not win a game in the regular season. Of course they played the whole year against triple-A schools. They qualified for the wild card by default, being the only AA team in the league.
   Caputo adds that the new recruits were forced to learn the ropes in regular season game time encounters, not an enviable set of circumstances. That’s a retrofit from the ground floor up.
   And sure, basketball is not rocket science, but like any sport it takes time to come to terms with the nuanced jargon and fundamentals.
   “Some of those girls didn’t know what a travel was, or a foul,” says Dibblee.   
   Thankfully several of the returning starters, like Sharon’s daughter Jenna for instance, were instrumental in that learning curve.
   In that victory over Clarke, Dibblee, Bailey Walker and Paige Roberts led the team, but the new recruits combined to donate some invaluable minutes, using lessons accumulated over a year of hard work commingled with a precipitous learning curve to aid and abet that important wild card win.
   Dibblee led all scorers with 15 points. Hilary Hawley scored the big shot to tie it up with second left in regulation. The teams were tied 30-30 after regulation and Caputo says that the girls really took it to Clarke in that five minute OT.
   “The girls all played well and all 10 of our players contributed,” says Caputo. “We stuck to our strategy and went right at them.” Clarke had only seven players, and two of those fouled out in the second half, forcing them to finish the game with no bench.
   Caputo is quite pleased. But not nearly as ecstatic as his young team..
   “They were jumping around like they had just won the NCAA finals,” says Caputo. “It’s the first regulation game we won all year … so they put it together at the right time. They’re mentally very, very tough.”
   It has been and continues to be, a simply stellar season for the Hawks seniors.
   See next weeks Voice for Kawartha final results.
   Follow the High School sports scene on the Gav’s blog: Highlands Sports Pages located at haliburtonsports.blogspot.com. Tips? gav@pardontheeruption.com.