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Senior Girls D3 Basketball

SG Basketball: MacLeod Tournament Recap

By Erik Van Dyke
In what may well turn out to be the final basketball action of the 2023-24 season, your Spartans travelled to Centennial Regional High School to take part in the annual MacLeod Provincial Tournament. The MacLeod is as storied a tournament as there is, with the inaugural event taking place way back in 1953. 71 years ago! In all that time, Stanstead College has emerged as champions four times (2017-2019, and again last year in 2023). It was a hard tournament to win. But as we’ve said before, worthwhile things are never easy.

We walked into Centennial as defending champions, but officially we were the #2 seed, with the host Chargers – who were in first place in their South Shore D3 league – legitimately earning the top seed. To be the best, we were going to have to beat the best. But before that, we had to get there. We had to make it to the final. And to do that, we had to take care of business in the round-robin and in the semi.
 
And take care of business we did, in a way that has become our trademark for the second half of this season, i.e. with defence. In three consecutive games vs Massey-Vanier, then Chateauguay Valley, and then Alexander Galt, FULL games, we allowed a paltry 57 points. Less than five points per quarter(!). That, friends and neighbours, is consistent lockdown D, and it can only happen in a zone like we play if all five players are doing their job. Aggressively and intelligently doing their job. To wit;
 
Maddie and Clara were quick to extend and recover down low. I’ve played their position in practice, and it’s tough to get all the way out there, corner to corner, not get beat baseline, block shots without fouling, and have the most rebounding responsibility. Kudos to both of them, and especially to Clara for how far she’s come since November.
 
Val, Halle, Sarah and Nya were so smart playing the top, rarely if ever getting caught too far out wide, smartly funneling opposing point guards into where we wanted them to go. Halle, in particular, was a deflection machine while Val was a bull terrier, hounding the ball handler into dribbling mistakes. All four improved their weak side rebounding, especially Val who would climb players’ backs several times a game for a piece of that ball.
 
Hayley and Edythe’s rotations became so automatic I honestly can’t remember them getting beat for a layup at all during the tournament, not once. Just as importantly, they got better at winning contested rebounds, those ones where six hands are reaching up and only two hands come down with it. Every one of those rebounds represents a possession, and possessions are priceless.
 
Finally, the wing defenders, Melissa, Camryn, Majo, Zoey and Julia, consistently forced high, loopy passes that allowed the defence to rotate while the ball was still in the air. Majo, in particular, was strong and tough on the ball all weekend, and Melissa’s timing on the pass was so good that she’d often just gobble up the attempted pass to the corner, rising up and stealing it right then and there. Speaking of steals, Camryn was our most prolific thief overall, but in a different way, i.e. waiting in the tall grass for an ill-advised pass to the wing, setting her opponent up, and then jumping the lane at just the right time and taking off the other way for a fast break layup.
 
All of these things working together, at the same time, produced stifling defence for three straight games. And we got just enough offence – Melissa (14 pts), Maddie (10 pts) and Camryn (8 pts) in the first game; Maddie
(8 pts) and Halle (6 pts) in the second half of the second game; and Melissa (14 pts), Maddie (12 pts) and Camryn (8 pts) in the semi – to win comfortably, i.e. 47-19 vs MVR, 36-21 vs CVR and 40-17 vs Galt. We’ve never been an offensive juggernaut, but we COULD put people on lock. Could that be enough in the final as underdogs? Versus the #1 team? For back-to-back MacLeod championships?
 

 
The MacLeod Final 2024
 
Scouting reports tell us that Centennial has three elite players. Not the best news. Two we think we can handle with our triangle-and-two defence. But three is a problem. So we decide to open the game with our regular zone. See how they attack it. Maybe it’s a good matchup for what they like to do? Maybe it’ll work?
 
Nope. 12-2 in no time. Quick timeout.
 
But, to be honest, it’s not the halfcourt D that is the problem; it’s their transition, which is fast and athletic and super dangerous. So we stick with our zone, but we buckle down to stop their fast break. Camryn stops the bleeding with a of couple buckets inside, Hayley hits a jumper and follows it with two made free throws, and the first quarter ends 20-10. Not great, obviously, but we’d taken their opening punch and we’d picked ourselves up and responded. Game on.
 
But then disaster. The Chargers keep rolling in the second quarter for 13 pts on a series of athletic drives, improvisation, and superb (8 for 9) free throw shooting. Meanwhile, your Spartans score…1 point. Why the offensive drought? Two reasons: 1) we’re getting no steals (CRHS doesn’t try to force anything, they just shoot the first shot they see) so we have no fast break, and 2) their #2 (great player) is absolutely dominating their defensive glass, snatching every rebound, not allowing us any offensive rebounds and putbacks, which is a critical part of our offence.
 
33-11 at halftime. Time for two big changes. 1) shoot more from outside, and hope we hit some – we need shots to fall to overcome this deficit, and 2) triangle-and-two defence to create steals and havoc and hopefully some fast breaks. How does it go? Offensively, meh. We scrape together 10 points with five different players finding a way to score, but that won’t be enough to come all the way back. But defensively, the triangle works like a charm. Only 6 points allowed in the quarter, and you can tell the Centennial players do not like it!
 
We start the fourth quarter, still down a ton 39-21, but with renewed energy and hope. So your Spartans pull out all the stops, try every trick, leave it all on the floor, in an effort to pull off a miracle. And when our outside shots finally start to fall, we start to think “maybe?” Down 16… down 13… tick tick tick… down 11… is this really possible? But then the magic runs out, the Chargers score, we miss our next two shots, and the final horn blows. 51-38. Tournament over. No back-to-back.
 
But after getting womanhandled 33-11 in the first half by a team that is clearly better than us on paper, these players came out and found a way to actually win the second half 27-18. Effort. Perseverance. Character. It was all on display.
 
What a fitting way to end the season.  You guys did yourselves proud.
 - Coach Van Dyke

Final(?) Statistics
Overall Record23 wins 15 losses 
RSEQ League Play:  5 wins  7 losses
Points for per game34.9     Points allowed per game26.4
CAIS Semi-finalists
BCS Tournament Finalists
MacLeod Provincials Finalists
Bailly Champions
 
 
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