On May 11, 2014, the London Ramblers U16 defeated the Caledon Cougars by a score of 40-32 in order to claim the inaugural JUEL Prep league Championship played in Kingston, ON.
“I’m super proud of them,” said Ramblers Head Coach, Rob Angione. “I really appreciated our multiple efforts all year, and how we were able to overcome various challenges and learn from them. The kids bended, but showed that they wouldn’t break when it counted. And that’s what was special about it as a Coach.”
The low scoring Final was a culmination of a weekend of adversity for the Ramblers, who finished the regular season in fifth place. Of the Five games they played since The Playoffs began on May 9, they had to defeat three of the top four teams including fourth place Advantage Titans (57-54) in pool play, first Place Hamilton Transway-Nurse (54-52) in the semi-finals, and third place Caledon in this the Final all in succession.
For the 14-3, JUEL Prep league of Ontario regular season team from London, ON, the weekend demonstrated to Coach Angione that his girls internalized a valuable team tool that he had been trying to instil from the beginning of the season. Besides needing their own individual skills, they would need to tap into a measure of faith in the abilities of their teammates in order to reach the top.
“We really focused on trust this year, and sharing. Sharing the ball, sharing the effort and sharing the load,” said Angione about the team’s year long goal. “We had a group of kids that were willing to sacrifice. When it came down to it, no one really cares about who got the shot, it’s just that we got it.”
“We learned some lessons early in the year with a couple losses where we got a little individual. And when we played as a team, we played very competitive.”
Being able to share the load was an absolute necessity coming off of the amount of ball London played over the past number of weeks, with three tournaments over the past three weekends. Back on the weekend of April 25-27, they played at the ASGR Deep South Tournament in Raleigh, NC during the NCAA April viewing period. They then returned to play in the Ontario Cup (Ontario rep championships) from May 2-4 in Niagara, ON, where they won a Bronze Medal. All, making this weekend’s victory on campus on Queen’s University in Kingston, ON, so much more fulfilling.
After a gruelling, down to the wire victory over Transway-Nurse in the semis that saw Ramblers’ Nicole Bus really step up with a 13 point, 12 rebound game, Coach Angione had to get his girls focused one last time for a tricky Caledon Cougars team that defeated them in the only time they played earlier this season by a score of 37-33.
The respect factor was in place for Angione, and so was the game plan. “[Caledon Cougars’ Head Coach, Mike Dodig] does an amazing job and they’re very well coached. They’re ultra aggressive,” he said acknowledging the preparation his foes brought to the table.
“For us, it was controlling the penetration of their Guards, and winning the battle of the boards. I believe that we did that and I think that’s what separated this game for us.”
In this game, Sarah Donovan, a Grade 9 player, led the team in scoring with nine points, while collecting 15 rebounds. Meanwhile, Caledon Cougar Mikaela Dodig led the response for her team, scoring 11 points in the losing cause.
With a look to the immediate future of this team, although there is no plan in place to keep this squad together during the summer, Angione and the Ramblers organization have a plan in place to keep tabs on the parts that will be playing on various summer teams.
“We try to build a continuum in the Ramblers program. have 3 kids playing on Team Ontario [U15], 3 kids playing on Blue Star [Ontario] and a few more playing on a development program. We keep involved with all our kids through the summer.” “Along with Dave Brown, our JUEL [U19] Coach, we keep tabs on them. We make sure they’re in the gym and getting reps and getting better.”