It was a packed gymnasium at Vanier Collegiate on Tuesday morning, as students, teachers, parents, and coaches showed their support for their senior girls’ basketball squad that captured the provincial title at HOOPLA last weekend.
“It’s heartwarming because you go and accomplish something for your school and, because we’re a smaller school, it’s like a community and you’re bringing the trophy back to a family that you all get to share with each other,” says Grade 11 point guard, Kate Waldenberger.
“All of our hard work has now paid off and we’re able to show that to our school,” says Grade 10 winger, Waverley Demassi.
The senior Spirits took down Lumsden 74-50 in the finals on Saturday to capture their first title since 2010, which is something that Waldenberger explained was a goal of theirs heading into this season.
“It felt like such a great accomplishment because it’s been so long and we’ve been working so hard. Just getting to HOOPLA was a big deal and when we won our first game it felt even closer. Then we finally made it and it was amazing.”
In that provincial final, the girls say that the key to success came down to the team taking advantage of Lumsden's zone defence, which allowed them to pass the ball around for the open shot.
To make things even more special, Spirts coach Alisha Amey was a part of the team that won provincials and the city championship back in 2010.
In addition, the team was able to win their first city championship since 2010 as well, with a 73-38 win over Peacock on March 14.
“It gave us more motivation. We were at HOOPLA and if we win these two games we’re champions. It must bring back old memories for her,” says Demassi.
Head coach Christa LaPointe couldn’t be prouder of the group of girls she had the chance to coach this season.
“The kids really dug in, they developed a desire to win and wanted to work together and really improve as a team, not just individually and I think that was the biggest difference for us,” says LaPointe.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first time for all of these girls to experience HOOPLA. LaPointe says the team was ready for the challenge.
“They knew that they were there to do a job. It didn’t matter whom they were going to play, they needed to step up and they did. They didn’t want to let off the gas just because it was basketball and anything could happen. The environment, the calibre of basketball, the variety of coaches, scouts, and players, it was an exciting, energetic experience.”
The Spirits were able to have the success they did with such a younger team having three Grade 10 players, five Grade 11 players, and only two Grade 12s.
“Thankfully our Grade 12s were very strong leaders and were a part of the last couple of years where we had some good mentors and leaders about culture and hard work. You’re not going to win every game. You need to learn to win and lose with integrity and character across the board,” LaPointe said.
The success was had throughout the whole season, finishing with a 25-7 record. Out of those seven losses, two were in overtime, four were by six points or less, and one was by 10-15 points.
LaPointe didn’t want to look too far ahead into the future but she is excited for what the next season brings and to see if the same success could be achieved.