The truest athletes play their hardest regardless of their own poor play or the score or the ref or the fans. The truest athletes are always laser-focused on the play right in front of them, and their body language tells their teammates “win or lose, we are NOT going down without a fight.” Unfortunately, we would have to revisit this theme several times throughout the tourney. However, there WAS one bright spot, as Rosalie Gadoua-Giroux
earned the Red Lobster’s Dish Of The Week AwardTM
with not one, not two, but THREE bee-yoo-tiful assists in the space of 3 furious minutes, setting her teammates up for easy scores and lighting the gym up with her trademark smile.
Our second game was no better. Despite a solid first half, we lost focus and started playing as if we were entitled to the win, in the process allowing St-George’s to fight all the way back and force overtime in the final minute of the game. Ultimately, a couple good inbounds plays and Elisabeth Shane hitting two clutch free throws in OT secured the 24-22 victory, but we were so unmotivated defensively that I started to wonder “have we ever played hard?” No deflections, no loose balls, flat-footed, out-rebounded on both ends. Just going through the motions, as if systems and X’s and O’s won basketball games instead of heart, sweat and intensity.
How You Play
The good news – no, the GREAT news – is we turned it around in Game #3. Thank goodness! Despite playing an elite opponent (Halifax Grammar, who would go on to win the tournament), our energy was much-improved. Player Of The GameTM Mariama Barry led the way, fighting for rebounds and loose balls like her life depended on it. Scrapping, clawing, beating the girl in front of her on pure hustle, because she wanted it more at that moment. Mariama’s play inspired her teammates, and with all five Spartans on the floor digging for every inch, we played a superior HGS team tough for 40 straight minutes. Final score 22-42, but my faith had been restored. THAT is how we can play.
We carried this momentum into our first game Saturday morning, a quarter-final tilt against the #1-ranked team ECS (we were ranked #8 going into the championship round). Or at least into the first half, where we played our prettiest ball of the weekend in building a 21-14 lead(!). Our intensity stayed high, our defence was disciplined, the players executed the game plan, AND we hit shots, especially Player Of The GameTM Rosema Lefebvre. The second half saw our skilled opponents make the proper adjustments so we ultimately lost 40-26, but the Red & White had put a legitimate scare into ECS.
How You Finish
The final game of the tournament turned out to be a friendly against LCC (even though we’d already lost to them 36-20 on Friday), so it would have been understandable if the girls had come out flat.
But that’s not what happened. Instead, in a game that makes me proud to wear the Red & White, your Spartans somehow, in their 5th game in 30 hours, played their best game of the tourney. For 38 minutes we played the uber-athletic Lions straight up, basket for basket, with every single player contributing. Down 7-2 early. Tied it up at 7. Up 14-11. Down 14-16 at halftime. 14-20. Then 5 pts in a row to make it 19-20…19-25…23-25…back and forth…until with 2 minutes left in the game the scoreboard read 30-29 for LCC, a team that had handily beaten us a day earlier. Unfortunately, the wheels completely fell off so badly in the last two minutes (final score 29-42), that as a team we have decided to wipe the memory of those two minutes from our brains. Two minutes? What two minutes?
But what will not be wiped from our memory is the journey we took this past weekend. From Friday’s lack of intensity, to the last three games where we brought our best vs the top teams. That’s what sports is about, ladies. You get what you put into it. And to be successful this season, we are always going to have to put in everything we have. It will never come easy. And it’ll be worth it.
- Coaches Van Dyke & Wolfe