The Bellerose Bulldogs are roaring loud and proud in high school women’s basketball.
Winning the Rise Up tournament was a major milestone for the division two newcomers after finishing first in the 2019 division three playoffs in the metro Edmonton league
“It shows everyone that we mean business and we’re here to play,” said head coach Triawna St. Germaine after Monday’s 82-44 division two lid-lifter against the Sturgeon Spirits at Bellerose.
Saturday’s super tight 67-66 final against the Bev Facey Falcons at Sturgeon Composite High School was also a confidence booster on the eve of the division two campaign.
“You can’t start off a season better than that,” St. Germaine said. “Taking home a tournament win like that is so important for us.”
Check out StAlbertToday.ca for the team’s championship picture.
Bellerose knocked off the Morinville Wolves, the 3A provincial consolation champions, by 12 points in the round of eight and beat the division one Archbishop Jordan Scots by 15 points before prevailing in the hard-fought affair with Facey, a division two team.
“Honestly, that felt so good because we’ve gone to that tournament the last two years and we’ve fallen short in our first game and so to go undefeated was awesome,” said Caitlyn Girard, a third-year Bulldog.
The final was too close to call until the last few seconds.
“It was pretty decent. It was even the whole game so we couldn't stop working. We had to push and push,” Girard said. “It came right down to the end. There was a foul and (after a missed free throw) we got the rebound and held it.”
Kirsten Reid was the top Bulldog in the final with 15 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
Zoe Zurowski registered 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks and Jordana Rivet, the tournament's MVP, also tossed in three three-pointers while scoring 13 points in total and recorded five steals.
“Our whole team worked very hard for that win,” said Rivet, noting that throughout the tournament, “We kept working our butts off. Everyone did everything they could to win it.”
The nose to the grindstone approach for Bellerose in division two will be the key to success after going 12-2 last season in division three, culminating with the championship banner in the team’s third final in a row.
“We never gave up. We earned that right to move up,” Girard said. “We have to work a little bit harder now that we're div two.”
Girard, 16, is a Grade 12 player along with Zurowski and Ellie Rezewski on the Bellerose roster that includes six returnees and five Grade 10s.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of skill this year. We were talented last year too, but with these Grade 10s I don't think I’ve seen so much talent at such a young age in such a long time so it’s pretty good. I’m really excited for this year,” Girard said. “Hopefully we’ll have a repeat and bring home the championship for div two this year.”
St. Germaine, the fifth-year Bellerose bench boss, established a template to create a winning environment for the varsity women’s program.
“It’s a different culture we created this year. I knew moving up to (division) two there was more work that had to be done and there was a different mentality that had to be in place in practices, in games and on and off the court and I feel myself and the coaching staff are doing a really great job of instilling that every day with the players,” St. Germaine said. “In taking that next step, I feel we’re pretty confident and ready that we can be a competitive div two school.”
Bellerose tipped off its division two opener in winning style. Down by one point after the first quarter, the Bulldogs charged back to lead 34-23 at halftime and widened the gap to 64-28 after three quarters.
Girard, a guard/forward, closed out the first half with three consecutive three-pointers during a lightning-quick 65-second span to seal the deal. Girard drained five three-balls overall.
Aneilia Ayotte, a highly-touted low-post player, scored 14 of her team-high 20 points in the first half.
Zurowski, another steady presence in the paint, chipped in with 12 points while Rivet added nine and Erin Burch had eight.
“We started off slow in the first quarter, we didn't score as much at the start, but G (Girard) hit so many threes in that second quarter and we all just turned something on and that made us go. We scored so many points after that and we crushed them,” said Rivet, 15, a Grade 10 point guard.
Today at 5:30 p.m. Bellerose hosts the Oscar Romero Ravens.
Monday’s division two men’s opener for Bellerose ended with the 73-60 loss to the visiting Archbishop Jordan Scots.
The next game is 6:30 p.m. Monday at the home of the J.Percy Page Panthers.
At the Rise Up tournament, Bellerose lost 81-64 to Facey in a tight game as the Falcons pulled away late.
In the C pool of the 12-team draw, Bellerose defeated the Ardrossan Bisons 78-77 with a great second-half rally to take the lead in the fourth quarter and in the 77-71 victory against the Memorial Marauders of Stony Plain erased a 12-point deficit at halftime.