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SG Basketball: You Were Born with a Neck, Use It!

By Erik Van Dyke
Welcome back, friends and neighbors, to Spartans senior girls basketball! It’s great to be back! Let’s kick things off with some background information, shall we?
  • Tryouts for the 2023-24 season began on Monday, October 30. The final team was selected on Friday, Nov 3. The following Tuesday, Nov 7, believe it or not, was our first game!
  • To add to the early season chaos, the Amaron Gym is being completely redone, so for the start of the season (and for the foreseeable future) there is only one gym, i.e. Mackay…for five basketball teams and two volleyball teams! This means practice time will be scarce, especially when we host basketball or volleyball games.
  • Finally, no less than six players from last year’s team have graduated, leaving a lot of big shoes to fill. And with an eye for the future, we have gone full ‘Youth Movement’, adding three Grade 9 and two Grade 8 players to our veteran core. In my 31 years of coaching SC basketball, I have never pulled this many juniors up to senior, and I cannot be more impressed than I am with the courage and the guts of this rookie class. Back when I was 14, would I have been brave enough to play on a team of Grade 11s and 12s at the Senior D3 level? Not this guy, I tell ya! Sarah, Julia, Zoey, Clara and Majo – you guys are awesome.
As for the game itself, with so little practice time under our belts, we had three things we were going to focus on vs Le Boise, our RSEQ opponents from Victoriaville. That’s it. Three hugely important things:
  1. Defensive rotations – our defence is new, to everybody, so we’ve all got a lot to learn
  2. Transition defence – hustle back on defence; you’re never out of a game if you allow zero fast breaks
  3. Transition offence – with no set offence, don’t let their defence get set, i.e., fast break, push, run run run
So how did your Spartans do?
 
Defensively, so-so. In the first half, we were hesitant, disorganized, and late. We rotated slowly, we weren’t aggressive enough in the passing lanes, and we gave up too many open jump shots. The good news is, we started improving in the second half, especially on the wings where we stepped up and not only deflected some passes but made a few athletic interceptions as well.
 
Transition defense was also ‘meh’. While we did make an effort to get back on D, too often the players had to be reminded during the play to “go! get back!” It is definitely NOT an instinct, yet – and when we did run back, we were usually running blindly and NOT looking for threats, hence the title of this writeup, i.e., turn your head while running back for goodness’ sake!
 
One thing we did really well, tho? Fast break, led by Melissa Kakayuk’s playmaking and Camryn Moore’s run-outs. The two vets already have a connection, as demonstrated by Mel setting up Camryn for 13 pts and three drawn fouls, all in transition. Once we start running wider lanes, the fast break will only get better.
 
Hustle Player of The Game:  Camryn Moore, who dove full-length on the floor so many times, Mr. Belknap-Keet, our swim team coach, tried recruiting her after the game.
 
All-State Good Hands Award #1Clara Buck-Thompson combining her athleticism and height for an impressive leaping steal in the 3rd quarter.
 
Dr. Feelgood Buckets of The DayNya Pierre, Julia Lee and Edythe McKenzie all scoring their first ever baskets as Spartans, all on calmly taken jump shots. So fun to see!
 
All-State Good Hands Award #2Majo “The Pickpocket” Garza with her cheeky poke-n-steal vs the Le Boise point guard.
 
Player of The Game: Melissa Kakayuk, who not only orchestrated our fast break, but poured in a game-high 19 pts of her own, including a first quarter buzzer-beater three AND a baseline floater in the fourth quarter that would’ve looked at home in the WNBA.
 
Overall, I am thrilled with this 44-21 victory in the first game of the 2023-24 season. Sure, we have a gazillion things to work on, but we played together, we worked our butts off, we found a way to score some points, and we learned/improved throughout the game. All basketball seasons are a journey, and we’re at the very, very beginning of ours. The future is bright.
 
And I’m excited.

Coach Van Dyke
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