Resilient Knights claim three-peat
Basketball: Holy Trinity Academy wins third straight Classic tourney
Wednesday, Dec 06, 2017 06:00 am
A Knight and day performance kept the winning ways going for an Okotoks school.
Holy Trinity Academy erased a five-point deficit at the half to edge the McCoy Colts 65-62 on Saturday evening to win their third straight Knights Classic senior girls basketball title at the expense of the Medicine Hat school.
“Honestly it was our pep talk,” said Knights forward Jordan Bonertz, the team’s tournament MVP. “We said we have to box out these guys, they’re tall. It’s not going to work if we just stand there. Boxing out and pushing it, we know we’re fast and we were just pushing it.”
HTA got to work early on the comeback.
In the third quarter Rachel Anderson drained a three to kick-start a 9-1 run for the Knights giving the hosts their first lead since the early stages of the final. McCoy hit a buzzer beater to end the third with a 47-46 advantage making for a wide-open contest in the final quarter.
The Knights resurgence was borne out of better fundamental basketball – from positioning to commitment on defence.
“We were a lot clearer on what we needed to do for the full half rather than just being scattered,” Anderson said.
The Knights wrestled back the momentum in the fourth quarter with improved outside shooting and determination on second efforts leading the charge.
Post Mackenzie Pender struck from behind the arc, Tiana Miller knocked in a tenacious and-one and Lauren Sinclair made a terrific steal and ran the length of the floor for a lay-up to give the Knights a 61-56 advantage with two minutes on the clock.
McCoy charged back with a 5-0 run and levelled the score at 61-61 at the charity stripe in the final minute of regulation.
Undaunted, the Knights pushed the ball down the floor and Anderson nailed a three-pointer that would hold up as the game winning points with just over 45 seconds left.
“As soon as I let it go I thought ‘hold on, this could win or lose the game,’” said Anderson. “That didn’t click until then so when I made it I was just ecstatic.”
The work wasn’t quite done.
McCoy, finalists in four of the past six Knights Classic tournaments and winners in 2013, didn’t go down without a fight.
Anderson hit one of two free throws with 5.6 seconds left leaving the Colts with one last frantic possession to force overtime yielding an air ball from behind the arc at the buzzer.
“We usually try to calm it down and make a good solid pass,” said Sinclair of the frantic finish. “To focus on everything you’re doing while you have the ball because if you have a turnover then we’re screwed.”
The Knights made quick work of the Stettler Wildcats in an 89-42 triumph in the tournament opener and then edged David Thompson 75-43 in the semifinal en route to its third consecutive tournament gold.
“This means a lot. This is our home tournament,” Sinclair added. “We take a lot of pride in our team, this is our school and we take pride in it.”
The timing of the triumph couldn’t be better.
HTA opens its title defence in the Foothills Athletic Council on Dec. 11.
“This pumps us up a lot,” Bonertz added. “We have a couple teams in the league that have gotten better this season so it’s good we have that (momentum) and also our tournaments this year will be really tough so it’s good to get that exposure.”