On April 10, 2016, Ottawa Elite defeated Canada Elite by a score of 55-50 in order to win the Canadian Youth Basketball League’s Senior Division Championship played at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto, ON.
An impressive 28 point performance by Madison Reid helped seal the win for the Ottawa team. Reid connected on a league record seven 3-pointers on her way to MVP honors.
The close, competitive nature of the game was a perfect end to their season according to Ottawa Elite Head Coach, Jaime McLean.
“It was phenomenal”, said McLean about his team’s win. “Both teams battling…it was a great way to end the year!”
The group of girls from the nation’s capital region needed to overcome a relatively slow start to the game in order to earn the win. Frantic pressure from Canada Elite right from the opening tip and again to start the second half, added an element of doubt into the game.
“We did start flat, but the whole key to our weekend was to lock down defensively”, said McLean about their success during the weekend’s playoffs.
For McLean, his team’s defensive rotations proved vital to their success. Once his girls took care of their individual assignment, it was up to them to believe in the system they had in place, by not doing too much at the wrong time.
“Everything that we can do, we can do from our defense. Work for each other and trust your teammates.”
The charge to his girls was a clear one: “If you’re locking a girl down, you’ll have the help behind you. The next step is coming, that rotation is going to happen. Our girls finally began to buy into that, got a few stops and began to manage the game a little bit better.”
Canada Elite came out charged, jumping out to an early 11-5 lead. It was a lead that they would hold on to until just about the midway point of the first half when adjustments had to be made due to early foul trouble.
“We just tried to force and put a lot of pressure on the guards”, said Canada Elite Head Coach, Handel Kipp. “We wanted to get a lot of paint touches on the offensive end.”
Kipp also went on to say: “Defensively, we just tried to run them off the 3-point line. It kind of changed a bit when we got into foul trouble early, so we had to kind of switch it up and go into a little bit of a zone.”
Cue the emergence of the hot hand of Ottawa Elite’s Madison Reid. The added spacing, plus the lack of man-to man coverage set the stage for her five first half 3-pointers, which helped give some life to the Ottawa team.
“That’s the way that we expect her to play all of the time”, said McLean of the momentum shifting effect Reid had on his team’s fortunes. “She’s a great player with a phenomenal stroke from the outside. It’s great for her to have that kind of game in the finals. For a kid to step up in a pressure situation like this…that’s huge.”
By Reid getting the team the momentum they needed, it boosted their squad to a 29-24 halftime lead. And after they overcame another wave from Canada Elite early in the second half, Coach McLean credited his team’s seniors with much of the credit for sealing the victory.
The same seniors that had been a driving force throughout the season.
Our senior players that are graduating this year have done a phenomenal job, leading, setting the tone in practice, fighting and really making the girls compete. Or graduating players Sarah Benoit, Jennica Klassen, Dee Ronan, Katie Elliot (and Gabby Tourigny who was not able to make it) were huge.
Rachel Niles led her Canada Elite team with 20 points for a group that was reduced to playing the game with only six players. Coach Kipp recognized the valiant effort of the Canada Elite players, although his team while short handed due to several injuries.
”Ottawa played an excellent game. But it came down to free-throws and little ticky-tacky fouls around the basket missed. But overall, I think the [Canada Elite] girls competed really well”, said Kipp.
Next up for Ottawa Elite, will be their April 16 appearance at the CROWN Scout presents Slam Let The Girls Be Girls event in Montreal.
For Canada Elite, they will be at ASGR Boston for the weekend of April 15-16 and will attend the Deep South tournament in North Carolina from April 22-24.