Youth movement in full swing at DM
The Denis Morris Reds defeated the visiting Saint Michael Mustangs in 55-35 in senior girls basketball action Wednesday. Photo by BERNIE PUCHALSKI
Across Niagara high schools, youth is being served on senior girls basketball teams.
Many of the senior teams boast countless junior players on their rosters. That situation is driven by schools not having enough numbers to have both junior and senior squads and the fact that many Grade 9s and 10s in Niagara are talented enough to play senior ball.
“It’s hard to get the kids to come out with work and school commitments,” Denis Morris head coach Stefanie DeMizio said. “And they play their sports outside of school and it’s hard for them to play in school as well.”
Denis Morris finds itself with several junior-aged players on their roster. The team is built around post player Emily White, who scored 19 in a 55-35 win over the visiting Saint Michael Mustangs Wednesday, but several youngsters are already making key contributions to the Reds, who evened their record at 1-1 following the win Tuesday.
“We are really young. We only have four seniors and the rest are Grade 9 and 10s that we brought up,” DeMizio said. “We are in a rebuilding year and the girls we brought up and kept are travel players outside of school.
“They know basketball and they are the ones that come out. The other girls don’t.”
Lexus Bell is one of the key juniors DeMizio is relying upon.
“She’s a go-getter, she’s very competitive and a very good player who likes to drive,” she said. “She doesn’t get intimidated.”
Bell is also a player who isn’t afraid of contact.
“She’s not scared like the other girls and she goes into the contact,” DeMizio said.
Unfortunately, Bell gets pretty beaten up in games.
“She does,” agreed DeMizio. “Right now she is sick with bronchitis and she’s fallen and has bruised her legs all over the place. There’s nothing broken though.”
After the game, the 15-year-old showed off bruises on both her knees
“I usually wear knee pads but not today,” she said. “I like to play aggressive, and take the ball to the net.”
Even while battling bronchitis, there was never any question of Bell missing Wednesday’s game.
“Basketball is my life and even when I am sick, I come to practice,” she said. “Today, I only came to school for basketball.”
She loves the sport.
“It’s my time to go out there and show what I can do,” she said.
The travel player with the St. Catharines Rebels organization has found senior ball a big step up from junior.
“It’s more intense and the play is faster,” she said.
Bell believes she is making the necessary adjustments to be an effective senior player.
“I’ve gotten better with my defence; there’s less slapping and I am trying to move my feet more.”
She is taking the sport year by year but would love to some day suit up for the Brock women’s basketball team.
“I have to keep working in practice and get better with my defence,” said Bell, who also plays volleyball at Denis Morris and soccer with the St. Catharines Jets under-18 team.
Bell only scored three points Wednesday but she contributed in other areas. Unlike junior, she doesn’t feel the need to take charge offensively.
“In junior it’s different but here I just pass the ball and give the other girls the chance,” she said. “And I work the ball inside more because it is easier for them to put it up.”
Dani Orlando and Jordyn Britton added eight points each for the Reds. Other scorers were Maisyn Kwinecki (6), Isobel McKay (4), Cayla Mirabella (3), Tegan Clarke (3) and Victoria Kaufman (2).
Saint Michael (1-1 in league play) was led by Carlee Ibey with 11 and Anne Ibey with nine.
Denis Morris will be playing in the Standard Girls Basketball Tournament next week before resuming league play.
“The goal is to improve, get to know each other as a unit and hopefully make it to the NCAA (Niagara Catholic Athletic Association) finals,” DeMizio said.
Flyers 52 Patriots 12
Beth deBoer scored 11 points and Mackenzie Schroeder added 10 to lead the Eden Flyers senior girls basketball team to a 52-12 win over Laura Secord.
Camryn Bagshaw added eight for the Flyers and Laura Secord was led by Mackenzie Busch with six points.