Better rebounding and three-point shooting.
It came down to those two factors as St. Michael Warriors defeated the Central Rams 37-30 to clinch first place in the Huron-Perth Senior girls basketball standings.
Both teams went into last Wednesday’s showdown at St. Mikes with perfect 7-0 records.
It was a tight, low-scoring, defensive battle early.
Tied 7-7, Warriors reeled off five straight points—including a three-point bucket by guard Taylor Grasby, the best player on the court.
Rams closed the gap to 12-11, Grasby responded with two more three-point baskets—putting St. Mikes ahead 18-11 and the lead for good.
At the half-time break, Warriors led 22-13. Most of the first-half offence for Central came from the finger-tips of Ashley Wheeler, who scored nine of her team’s points.
Rams continued to battle in the second half, and trailed just 32-26 with less than four minutes to play.
Finally, a big three-point bucket by Olivia Valiquette gave St. Mikes a little breathing room with just over three minutes left on the clock.
With less than one minute remaining, Central guard Julia Brookshaw hit a three-point shot, closing the gap to 35-30. Valiquette, however, answered right back with a two-pointer and that’s how it would end.
Valiquette finished with 13 points and Grasby had 11 for the Warriors. Wheeler had a game-high 14 points for the Rams.
“Rebounding has been a key for us all year,” St. Mikes’ coach Steve Goforth said after the game. “Lauren Quinlan and Marissa Horenberg are under-sized, but they just battle. Overall, our rebounding was great.
“And the kids take pride in their shooting, and they work on their shooting. We have two or three kids who can hurt you with the three-point ball. It’s a great weapon if you have it.”
Warriors finished the game with four three-pointers, while Central had two.
The St. Mikes Seniors completed a 9-0 season later in the day with a 41-16 win over Listowel Lightning.
Michaela Valiquette had 11 points for the Warriors.
The Central Seniors went on to finish 8-1 last week with a 63-21 win over Listowel on Wednesday, and a 52-19 victory over Central Huron on Friday.
Wheeler led the Rams in both games with 25 and 20 points, respectively.
In the H-P semi-final playoffs on Wednesday of this week, the Senior Warriors host St. Marys Salukis at 1 p.m., while Central entertains South Huron Panthers at 2 p.m.
Junior Warriors also go 9-0
The Junior Warriors, coached by Tim O’Connor, also completed a 9-0 H-P regular season at home last Wednesday.
In their opening game, St. Mikes defeated Central 61-35. Avery Wedow had 21 points, Jessica Findlay-Robinson 20 and Mia Valcke 13 to pace the Warriors’ attack.
Julia Cressman had 16 points for the Rams (5-4), with Lauren Bailey adding 10.
In their second game of the day, Wedow had 15 points and Valcke eight in a 54-15 win over Listowel.
The St. Mikes Juniors host F.E. Madill Mustangs on Wednesday of this week in the H-P semi-finals. Tip-off at St. Mikes is 2:30 p.m.