It was a fantastic weekend, with close games, great energy from the fans, and perfect sportsmanship from players and coaches alike. Appleby, LCC, Sacred Heart, West Island College, ECS and us - those are some classy teams right there, friends.
Round-Robin Game #1 vs ECS
The first half was a chaotic track meet, just like ECS likes it, with full court double-teaming pressure after every made basket making it tough to bring up the ball and almost impossible to get into an offensive rhythm. At halftime it was 15-15 and it looked like anybody’s game. But we made a critical adjustment to start the third quarter – switching from man to zone – and proceeded to put on a defensive clinic so utterly complete that (and this is not a typo) the Beavers would not score a point the rest of the game. The back of the zone especially put up an impenetrable wall, deflecting and double-teaming and allowing no passes and no space inside. And when you keep stealing the ball, that means no more full-court press – whew! – and lots of opportunities to fast break – fun!, especially for Rosema Lefebvre (9 pts) and Player Of The GameTM Gloria Riddell (8 pts) who led a balanced attack (9 different scorers!) to a 38-15 victory. Our first win of the season! J
Round-Robin Game #2 vs West Island College
Something has to be the low point of the season, and I hope this was it. It started with poor coaching – we should have reacted better to Les Voyageurs’ box-and-one defence – and only got worse from there, with a depressing 29-10 final score. We were disorganized, out-toughed and out-smarted all game, with the only bright spot being our zone defence, which held up pretty well, all things considered. As we walked off the court after the final whistle, shoulders slumped, I was searching for answers, and I honestly didn’t know where to start looking…
Round-Robin Game #3 vs Appleby College
…and then we go and have our best game of the year vs the top team in the tournament. Despite falling behind 12-3 early, your Spartans, refusing to panic, fed off the energy of the Saturday night home crowd to claw all the way back and tie it up 12-12. From that point on, it was a dogfight. Back and forth. Both teams playing well, with all players, whether on the floor or on the bench, totally locked in. And then, at 24-32 to start the fourth quarter, the Spartans and the Blue Dogs put on a show that had the fans in the stands going absolutely bonkers. In the craziest shot-making exhibition of the weekend, the two teams combined for 30 points(!) in 10 minutes. Siena, Melissa and Player Of The GameTM Rosema did the damage for the Red & White, bringing the crowd to their feet with every bucket. But #14 from Appleby (the eventual tournament MVP) single-handedly answered every one of our baskets – every one! – with a picture-perfect jump shot of her own. She was so on fire – 7 swished jumpers in a row! – that our own fans were going nuts on her buckets as well! When the dust cleared we’d lost a thriller 47-39, but that game, and that fourth quarter, showed me what we were capable of. No slumped shoulders now. I had found some answers.
Semi-Final vs Lower Canada College
If the Appleby game showed me how focused our team could be, this game showed me how tough we could be, led by Tournament All-Star Siena Webster and Player Of The GameTM Melissa Kakayuk-Antoine. Melissa, in particular, physically dominated on both ends of the floor and set the tone for her teammates. LCC is an athletic in-your-face team, but your Spartans matched them punch for punch, scratching and clawing and fighting for every inch and every loose ball. It was Big Girl Basketball, and it was great to see. Final score 24-28, but I could not be happier with how we finished the tournament.
Four games. One good. One dreadful. And the last two that we should be legitimately PROUD of. We want to improve every time we get on the court, and we made real strides this weekend. I’m looking forward to the next two days of practice and then, on Wednesday, our first away game, @ Richmond.
It’s coming. Slowly but surely, it’s coming. Let’s keep getting better.
- Coaches Van Dyke & Wolfe