There was the big show court for the finals of each D3 division (benjamin, cadet and juvenile, boys and girls), and a regular court for the consolation finals. At every level, these two games were played at the same time. So yeah, it was loud, with four sets of passionate fans cheering simultaneously. It was also a social event, with everyone in the local basketball community catching up with each other, happy to be there, appreciative of the day-long basketball drama being played out in front of them.
As we waited in the corner of the show court gym, stretching, earbuds in, waiting for the D3 cadet final to finish, you couldn’t blame us for feeling like outsiders. No one knew who we were. Why would they? We had literally never played in a D3 final. The group of girls in red warmups speaking English over there in the corner? A mystery. And that coach, what’s he wearing a suit for?
The cadet game ended, and we finally took over our bench. We only had nine for warmup – we were short Camryn, Edythe, Gloria and Halle – but being shorthanded this season was nothing new to us. We were ready.
The game couldn’t have started much better, as 3 consecutive offensive rebounds led to a Paquette jumper – welcome back, Sara Buckettes! – that sparked a 6-0 run to kick things off. We looked good on defence, too, active, helping. When Triolet finally got on the board, they full court pressed aggressively, but Melissa and Sara handled it without difficulty, with all of that preparation for Salesien’s press paying off nicely.
By the end of the first half, we had fashioned a workmanlike 24-14 lead. No big runs, just a steady diet of balanced offence (5 players scored 4 points or more), disciplined defence, and hard-nosed rebounding. The refs weren’t calling much – we only took 2 free throws all half – so it’s a credit to the players that we matched our opponent’s desperate physicality. We kept attacking the hoop, and we fought for every inch.
Despite the lead, it was far from over. Trio’s impressive halfcourt defence, already tough to crack – they are great on the ball, they rotate quickly, and they held us to 36 points last time we played – clamped down even harder. There would be no more open shots in the halfcourt for us the rest of the game. Everything would be contested and difficult.
And we were getting tired. We took 10 minutes at halftime instead of the usual 5, but by the middle of the third quarter, we were dragging. Slowly jogging back on D. Hands on knees after whistles. If we were going to hang on, we needed a spark.
And Player Of The Game Maddie Lippmann was that spark. Playing as if she was trying to make up for every single minute she missed due to injury, Maddie took over the game. She was right there for every 50/50 ball, collecting rebounds and loose balls with those Spiderman-sticky hands of hers. She was the only Spartan able to effectively anticipate Trio’s offensive motion, deflecting and outright stealing passes five(!) times in the half. And most importantly, with our halfcourt offence stalled and our legs heavy, Maddie became a one-woman Energizer Bunny fast break, converting Melissa’s full court passes into highlight baskets time and again. I honestly don’t know how she even caught half of those bullet passes – what hands! – never mind how she finished them at the rim. So clutch!
So with 9 second half points, including 6 in the fourth quarter, Maddie brought us home with her guts and guile. And is there anything more poetic than a selfless teammate, sidelined for months, waiting for her chance to finally play, carrying her team to the finish line in the championship game? Every so often the universe makes sense. I could not be happier for a player than I am for Maddie. What a way to end the year!
With this 49-32 victory, your Stanstead Spartans made history (again!), winning the RSEQ D3 regional championship banner for the first time in history.
But the accolades did not stop there. At the medal ceremony, the players were presented not only with the playoff banner they just earned AND the league banner (for finishing in first place in the regular season) but with the ethics banner as well, for being voted (by the other schools in the league) the team that showed the greatest sportsmanship throughout the season. How impressive is that?! A banner day, indeed!
So here we are at the end of this long, long season. With a list of team accomplishments that is historically exceptional, especially given the injuries and adversity we had to overcome this year.
Players, thank you. Thank you for believing in each other. Thank you for buying into the system. Thank you for trying hard, for playing fair, and for being classy. We’ve all come a long way since November, and we’ve all learned a lot.
To those graduating, good luck next year wherever you may be. And to those returning? See you at tryouts next year!
- Coaches VD & W
Overall Record: 30 wins 9 losses
RSEQ League/Playoffs: 13 wins 1 loss
Points for per game: 42.2 Points allowed per game: 27.6
Mtl Independent Schools Tournament Silver Medalists
Stanstead Invitational Tournament CHAMPIONS
Bailly Tournament CHAMPIONS
MacLEOD PROVINCIAL TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
RSEQ Div 3 League CHAMPIONS
RSEQ Div 3 ETHICS BANNER
RSEQ Div 3 Playoff CHAMPIONS