It was definitely a turkey-n-gravy start to the Montreal Independent Schools Tournament, as you could tell we’d been off for a month. Dribbling, catching, finishing inside, even moving – we were bad at all of it. And more concerning, we looked like we’d never played our defence before, as the Sacred Heart School of Halifax consistently found holes in our zone and created good shots. But with 4 minutes left in the first half we got our legs under us, finished the half on a 6-0 run, and then outscored the Saints 23-7 in the second half to pull away. Highlights from the game include Rina cleverly finding Alyssa and Alex down low for easy buckets, Mackenzy and Chloe blocking 8 shots between the two of them, and Player Of The GameTM Emily “Lebron” Willis who scored 13 pts on only 8 shots, including 3 of 4 from deep and a buzzer-beating baseline jumper from almost behind the backboard. I guess she figured out how to extend her range!
SC 38 – St-George’s 9
When Kenz won the opening tip to Chloe who scored after only 3 seconds, you knew the Dragons were outmatched, but definite kudos to them for playing hard until the final whistle. Game highlights for me were Maya playing point guard for the first time (I’ll never forget her expression when we told her) and doing a good job, the Manu offence scoring 3 straight times in 3 different ways, “Lebron” splashing two more threes, and hometown hero M.K. Koketso ripping down a game-high 8 rebounds.
SC 36 – Villa Maria 16
We hit our stride on defence in this one, as we started the game on a 14-0 run. Despite their best efforts, the Lynx could not create good shots, not inside and not outside. Rosie and Maya in particular had strong defensive games, not only in the halfcourt but in defensive transition as well. Highlights for me included the team shooting over 70% from the free-throw line, and M.K.’s hi-lo assist to Alex for a sweet two points.
Quarter-final: SC 45 – ECS 21
It’s never easy against the Beavers, and when the score stood 6-6 after the first 5 minutes it looked like it could be another no-holds-barred knock-down-drag-em-out affair, like we seem to play every year. But two things kept that from happening. First of all, Rina’s decision-making at point guard reached an elite level; she was like Chris Paul out there directing traffic and putting her teammates in position to score time and time again. Secondly, we changed our defence and put Player Of The GameTM Mackenzy St-Pierre man-to-man on their superstar #24. I’m starting to think it may be unfair when we do that to other players, that’s how much of a ridiculous shutdown defender Kenz has become. Case in point, before we Unleashed The Kenz, #24 scored 7 first-quarter points. After The Unleashing, #24 scored zero points. Nada. Heck, I don’t even know if Kenz allowed her to take a shot. You see what I mean about feeling a little bad about it?… No, you don’t feel bad?… okay, I’ll get over it.
Semi-final: SC 50 – LCC 27
The Lions are an athletic, well-coached team who like to press, so this one was a track meet from start to finish. And you know who likes track meets? Rina and Kenz. After a scare in the first quarter where we lost Chloe to a knee injury, Rina and Kenz took turns breaking down the LCC full-court pressure and creating layups for either themselves or Alyssa (11 pts) and Alex (6 pts) down near the basket. In the end Rina finished with 10 pts on only 8 shots, and Kenz stuffed the statsheet with 19 pts, 14 rebs(!), and 5 blocks. But everyone contributed to this game – due to the fast pace we had to substitute a lot – and the bench players, in particular Rosie Ladouceur, had a huge effect in this one.
Final: SC 36 – Mtl Bluehounds 33
I think I am more proud of this game than any other game this season, even the CAIS Finals vs Ashbury. And here’s why. The Bluehounds are a better team than us. Club basketball players, with elite athleticism. For one of the rare times this season we were the underdogs going in, as our opponents had scored over 60 points in their last two games, running time. That, my friends, is seriously impressive. So how did we win? Because your Spartans, up against it, treated every play, from the opening tip, like it was the most important play of the game. And the Bluehounds did not. That’s it. That’s the reason. Our uber-talented opponents confidently coasted through the first half playing at ¾ speed, which allowed us to forge an 18-7 halftime lead built on grit, opportunism, amazing support from our bench, and desperate defence. Kenz and Chloe (back from her injury – phew!) were absolute beasts on the boards (17 between them for the game), Rina was at her decision-making best, Alyssa confidently finished Rina’s sublime passes, Emily and Chloe each drained a triple, and the team defence was phenomenal. Think about it: we allowed 7 pts to a team that had scored 69 pts the game before – now that’s a lockdown!
But the Bluehounds coach obviously had a few choice words for his team at halftime, because they came out flying. They crashed the boards like demons, seemingly flying over us for rebounds, and blocked our shots time and again. They started making outside shots. And most impressively, they challenged every pass, every dribble, every attempt at offence. We could barely get a good shot off for the entire second half, but when we did get our chance, we took it. Rina squirmed inside for a hoop, Kenz gutted out baskets inside, Chloe hit a runner and Emily lebronned two more threes. But that was it. And the Bluehounds just kept inching closer. 28-17… 28-23… the pro-Montreal crowd going nuts… 30-25… 33-31… 30 seconds left…and finally a HEE-YUGE three by Emily and a clutch defensive rebound by Chloe and the buzzer finally went. What a win! I tellya, if that game goes 5 minutes longer, we lose, that’s how tough it was to do anything against our opponents in that second half. But games are about more than second halves. Every play matters. Every play in the first quarter means as much as the plays in the fourth quarter. And that’s the only reason we pulled this out. Because we outworked our opponents early, and just enough to overcome the gap in talent. And in my opinion, there is NO better way, no better reason, to win a basketball game.
Be proud, ladies. Against a superior opponent in a hostile environment, you gave yourself a chance through effort, positivity, and supporting each other. You fully deserve that Championship Banner!
– Coaches Van Dyke & Wolfe
The year so far….
Overall Record: 17 wins 4 losses
RSEQ League Play: 3 wins 2 losses
ETIAC League Play: 1 win 0 losses
Points for per game: 43.5 Points allowed per game: 27.2
C.A.I.S. Silver Medalists
Stanstead Invitational Tournament CHAMPIONS
M.I.S. Tournament CHAMPIONS