[attach]2974[/attach]Northern’s Cinderella story season came to a grim end Nov. 16 at the hands of a very strong Eastern Commerce at the AAAA senior girls basketball championships.
Losing 81-17 to a deep Saints roster, coach Wendy Luck was impressed that a season she described as a rebuilding year yielded a City silver.
“We didn’t really expect to get here. I only had one returning player from last year and all those 12 players had played junior.”
What was tough to swallow about the loss was the fact that star guard McKenzie Sigurdson had to watch the game from the bench. The tenth grader, who was Luck’s only returning player from last year’s OFSAA run, suffered a deep knee bruise in the Red Knights 38-30 win over Bethune Nov. 11.
“Losing McKenzie to injury was bittersweet,” Luck said. “We played a hard-fought game in the semifinal against Bethune.”
Sigurdson, still vibrant after being told to stay off the knee for a week, rued not being able to help her teammates.
“Both my parents and coach Luck agreed that they don’t want further injury,” she said. “I really wanted to play, though.”
[attach]2975[/attach]In her stead, Sarah Turkenicz notched 11 of her points from the outside perimeter and foul line, as the Saints tightened defence in the key.
“We really came out on top (in the playoffs). I mean, we didn’t get first place but we did well,” Turkenicz said.
Still, something to work on for the Red Knights was fast breaks. Too many unforced turnovers led to E-Comm’s weaponry being unsheathed.
Vaneil Simpson picked up 10 points, six steals and seven boards, while forward Sammi Hill powered her way down the court for 17 points. She also pilfered seven passes.
“It feels good to be back on top again,” Hill said of the Saints reclaiming the city title after losing to Northern 46-40 in 2009.
“The season’s been pretty good, we’ve been working really hard and I think our wins reflect how we’ve been practising,” Hill said.
Her coach Kareem Griffin’s gameplan was certainly not to run up the score, as his entire bench saw championship game action.
“It’s no different from any other game,” he said. “We play the game that we play against a harder team or another.”
As for OFSAA, both Griffin and Hill will take it game-by-game.
“Getting back on defence, togetherness, not to get down on each other when things are looking bleak,” Griffin said of the plan of action. “Just play hard.”
Hard work is what will be on the agenda for any girls wanting to make Northern’s squad in 2011. Luck has plenty of talent coming up from the junior camp.
Sigurdson can’t wait.
“I’m so excited for next year. The team looks really good, but today was great,” she said. “I’m pretty proud of the girls.”