Bantams come up big

JOE PAVIA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

It was a banner day for local curlers last Saturday.

Stephanie Brown and teammates Kara Ritter, Kim Tuor and Jessica Gannon captured the girls' bantam provincial championship in Oshawa, while Neil Sinclair, along with Graham Rathwell, Matt Camm and Andrew Hamilton, won the boys' final.

Both teams sported identical 6-1 records with Brown finishing alone on top to earn her crown.

Sinclair tied with Brampton's Kevin Lagerquist in the round-robin, forcing a tiebreaker match.

Backed by a couple of steals and a three-point sixth end, Sinclair's foursome from Manotick enjoyed a 7-3 win.

"We had a really strong game," Sinclair said of his team, which is coached by his dad Graham. "We played well together as a team."

It also avenged a 9-6, extra-end loss to Lagerquist in the round-robin.

"We started off with a bad start and we couldn't come back from that,'' Sinclair recalled. ''After the fourth-end break, we just tried to make a game out of it."

Down 6-0 entering the fifth, Team Sinclair mirrored the scoring of their opponents, ending up in a tie that forced the extra end. A steal of three, though, ended Sinclair's hopes for an undefeated record.

CONTRASTING RECORDS

Brown, who is coached by her father David, suffered her only loss in the fourth draw. The final result was in sharp contrast to her appearance last month in the junior provincials in Brockville. Playing third on that team, Brown and company went 1-6.

"Our bantam team got along much better than our junior team," said the skip from the North Grenville Curling Club.

The girls' banner will be the first one to grace the walls of the relatively new club in Kemptville.

BRIER LINEUP: Except for Ontario and Quebec, the Tim Hortons Brier field is now set. By his own admission, Kevin Martin didn't deserve to win the Alberta final against Kevin Koe. "I feel terrible for him and that's the truth," said Martin. "They deserved to go to the Brier." Koe's last rock thrower, Blake MacDonald, was devastated when a last-rock sweeping error forced an extra end, then his last stone in the extra end sailed too deep, giving Martin the win. By all accounts, the Koe squad outplayed the Alberta dream team. Other notables bound for Hamilton include Olympic champion Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton. Jean-Michel Menard and Pierre Charette were to determine the Quebec representative last night. Thurso's surprising Simon Dupuis lost his qualifier.

BLIND CHAMPS CROWNED: Team Canada from Kelowna, B.C., three-peated as the national blind curling champions last Friday in Ottawa. Watch for a Canadian Paralympic Foundation announcement today about the TSX Group donating $400,000 over the next four years to support blind and wheelchair curling.

CITY NEEDS TEAMS: Friday is the extended deadline for teams to enter the City of Ottawa Bonspiel. Junior teams with players aged at least 17 as of the end of December, 2006, may enter.

CURLING THIS WEEK: The Tim Hortons Masters, and Gore School Boy and School Girl provincials begin today in Owen Sound and Carleton Place, respectively ... The Tim Hortons Trophy and Colts regionals take place on Saturday ... The Best Western Intermediate men's and women's zones begin Friday ... The Scotties Tournament of Hearts starts Saturday with the first of two daily TSN draws beginning at 4 p.m. ... Rogers Television continues the TSC Stores Tankard coverage culminating with the final Sunday at 1:30.


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