Mt. Carmel School extended its reign in the middle school division of the Commonwealth Coalition of Private School Association Basketball League after outclassing Seventh Day Adventist in their title match, 17-10, last Monday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The championship was the Lady Knights’ third in a row after winning against Grace Christian Academy (28-12) in 2015 and versus Saipan International School (24-22) last year.
“Though it was a very short season and we faced only one team, the girls worked hard this year and were proud to win the division title for the third straight season,” said MCS coach Catherine Attao-Toves.
With only Mt. Carmel and SDA competing this season, they dueled twice in the preliminary round before battling for the division title last Monday.
“We used the first two games to give all our players the opportunity to play. When we’re not playing and practicing, our girls saw action in the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association’s Interscholastic Football League to remain in condition and develop their footwork and team chemistry. I think the time we spent at the soccer pitch helped our girls improve their stamina and confidence as they played better in the finals and had shown significant improvement in skills and teamwork,” said Catherine, who was assisted by her husband Mark in calling the shots for the Lady Knights.
Mt. Carmel players came out more prepared and fitter in the finals as they dove for loose balls, pressured SDA’s ball handlers, and prevented their opponents from getting open looks at the basket. The results of the Lady Knights aggressive approach on defense in the one-game finals were two scoreless quarters (second and fourth) from SDA.
On offense, five Mt. Carmel players made it to the board right from the get-go and two more scored in the ensuing quarters. Fiona Bucalig paced the Lady Knights with her 6 points.
Despite their three straight division titles, the Lady Knights will not rest on their laurels.
“We will try to get more students involved in the program. In fact, the seniors of our girls high school team will conduct camps and clinics for players in the fifth grade and below to encourage more students to play basketball and be active in sports,” Catherine said.
“I just wish other schools will compete next season to develop more players and give the students something to look forward to after their classes. I commend SDA for coming out to play and forming a team even if they have only 7 to 8 players,” she added.
The Lady Knights doubled up SDA’s roster as Bucalig is joined on the team by Maaya Sato, Noreen Vidal, Kaia Travilla, Keyili Peter, Camille Perez, Gia Hemley, Nona Palacios, Kristen Torres, Francine Albuen, Lynzey Green, Sienna Muna, Maria Ayuyu, Kiana Propst, and Brandee Hunter.