By Darryl G. Smart
If you were to ask Ethan Jones or any of his Hagersville Hurricanes senior girls basketball players their expectations at the beginning of the season, it was a pretty safe bet they would all say they were just happy to be back playing. Little did they know, the Hurricanes would go on a magical run that saw the team go to the highest level.
Last week, the Hurricanes made school history by participating at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations A championships at Smithville Christian High School.
“The experience at OFSAA was one I’m sure the team will never forget,” Jones said. “Hagersville has never attended OFSAA for girls basketball in the past, so that alone was a huge accomplishment for them. They were all very excited to sign the OFSAA banner and hang it in the gymnasium.”
The Hurricanes against Roland Michener Secondary School in Timmins and dropped a 59-31 decision, before losing 46-20 to the host and eventual champions from Smithville Christian High School. The Hurricanes rounded out the tournament with a l56-32 oss to École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Trinité, from Oakville, before getting the school’s first ever OFSAA win, a 28-15 triumph over Almaguin Highlands Secondary School, from South River.
“Smithville Christian did an excellent job hosting the event, setting up team pictures, organizing schedules,” he said. “We were able to get our big first game win at OFSAA and held our own in every matchup.”
Getting to OFSAA is no easy task at any level, and the Hurricanes accomplished it by going through a ton of adversity.
“We only had 10 students initially tryout for the senior team,” Jones said. “So needless to say, everyone made it. Also, none of the girls play basketball outside of school, so with the missed season last year due to Covid it was a slow start.”
But what the Hurricanes lacked in experience, they made up for it with heart and hustle. The Hurricanes finished in the middle of the pack with a 4-4 record in Athletic Association of Brant Haldimand Norfolk District 9 action. In the playoffs they beat Dunnville Panthers and Cayuga Warriors to win the East Division, before losing the AABHN title to the Holy Trinity Titans.
But the Hurricanes magical run began after that loss. They defeated the Delhi Raiders in the Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association play-in game, before winning CWOSSA to earn a spot at the provincial A championships.
“What we did have was an excellent group of dedicated, athletic girls with experience in other sports – primarily hockey and ringette -that were able to learn and adapt quickly,” Jones said. “We played a very gritty defensive basketball style causing a lot of turnovers for other teams. Our best basketball was played in the playoffs.
“Most teams that we had to beat to make it to OFSAA were more experienced and skilled than we were,” he said. “But no one worked harder than our team on the court. We won games with good defense, rebounding and high energy. Due to our low number of players, we often had several players never come off the court in a game. This is something none of them will ever forget.”