Winter Athletes on Fire!

This week, we feature three phenomenal athletes who have absolutely been on fire, Ayla Johnston, Cade Westberry, and Noah LaBelle.

Gauntlet Staff

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Katie Carlsen
Ayla dribbles the ball up the field looking for a scoring opportunity in the District Championship game.

Our first athlete is senior varsity girls soccer player, Ayla Johnston. This past week was the district tournament for our girls’ soccer team. On Monday, they faced off against Imagine School of North Port and Ayla showed out.

As SSES left with a 5-0 win and a trip to the championship, Ayla left the game with a goal and an assist. Thursday was the District Championship and Ayla didn’t back down from the pressure.

During the game against ODA, Ayla broke the scoring barrier with the first goal of the game. ODA answered with a goal to tie the 1-1 in the first half.

After Saint Stephen’s once again took the lead, Taylor Voigt was fouled. Ayla stepped up to take the free kick and booted the ball into the back of the net over the outstretched arms of the ODA goalie.

The 4-1 victory over the Thunder provided the first varsity girls soccer district championship since 2014.

Tracey Westberry
Cade Westberry shoots the second of two free throws in a game against BCS.

The next athlete on fire is senior varsity basketball player Cade Westberry.

Back on January 25th, the varsity boys basketball team headed into BCS with a 9-0 district record looking for the first ever undefeated district season in school history. Going five of seven from the three point line, Cade dropped 25 points against the rival Panthers to lead Saint Stephen’s to a 66-52 victory!

On the 28th, the Falcons faced off against Brooks DeBartolo Christian at home, where Westberry continued his hot streak. He made three more three-pointers in that game and scored 24 in the 64-40 win.

Finally on Thursday, the boys basketball team went on the road to challenge Cardinal Mooney in a heated matchup. After a comeback win in their first matchup, Saint Stephen’s was determined to win once again.

After a back and forth game, the Falcons trailed by nine with about for minutes left. Tremendous effort aided the boys in tying the game with seven seconds left.

On the last possession, Junior, Ty Barker inbounded it to Cade who immediately passed it back to Ty after he stepped inbounds. Running through the set play, Ty passed it to senior, Ben Schnur, who made another pass over to Cade and with 0.4 seconds left, Westberry shot a three that went in as the buzzer sounded, lifting the Falcons to a 44-41 victory.

The 12 point performance gave Cade a 20.3 point per game average over that three game span.

Katie Carlsen
Noah LaBelle dribbles past BCS defender in District Championship match.

Our last blazing athlete is varsity boys soccer player, senior, Noah LaBelle.

Last Tuesday, in the District Semifinal game, Imagine School at North Port traveled to the MAC to play against the Falcons. Nursing a knee injury and assuming an easy victory, LaBelle sat out the first half. However, the Sharks seemed to be a more formidable foe than expected.

With only 20 minutes left in the game, both teams were tied at one goal a piece. This is when Noah checked into the game, and at that moment, the Sharks should’ve known they just transitioned from predator to prey.

Within a span of eight minutes, LaBelle booted in two goals that sealed the victory and a championship appearance for the Falcons.

As great as this performance was, on the night of the District Championship this past Friday, when the lights shined the brightest, Noah put on a performance that would make the great ones jealous.

Noah was responsible for the only two goals the Falcons scored in regulation with one goal and one assist. As the game went into overtime, LaBelle unleashed his full soccer prowess scoring both goals in OT putting away the Panthers. This victory secured the ninth straight district championship for our varsity boys soccer team.

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