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Nike National Invitational Tournament(2013) Standouts



lauren handy

From July 10-13, 2013, fourteen Canadian teams descended upon Chicago Illinois to participate in this year’s Nike National Invitational Tournament.

The Team Ontario U17s were in my opinion the shining light of the Canadian contingents that descended upon Chicago. In what is Head Coach Jodi Gram’s fourth season at the helm of a Team Ontario squad, she managed to get the most of her team during this showcase. Couple that with the fact that there are only two players from the team committed to this point, and it becomes easy to see that her phone will likely be ringing off the hook, fielding inquiries based on how well her players played in their 3-2 run over the three days. I’m sure Iowa was loving the strong play of their commit, Christina Buttenham, who made the most of the stage given, by knocking down big shots and getting to the rim consistently making her an all round threat. And, Robert Morris must have been reassured that things are were progressing as they should based on the play of their commit, Mikalah Mulrain, who was very active on the boards and cleaning up just about everything that was within 5 feet of the basket.

There was also plenty of stage for others to step up as well, and many did just that on the team that was playing their first set of games together in this tournament. Bridget Atkinson had her bread and butter on display, with her ability to create for self and for others at the Point Guard position. Also hitting her stride was Cheyenne Creighton who appeared to be playing at or near her best ball at the right time. She supported Team Red in a variety of ways, and helped them stick around a showcase that for them was full of tight games and exciting finishes. Tight finishes like in their double overtime victory against the Minnesota Stars, where with 6.8 seconds left in the Fourth Quarter, and her team down by three, Bridget Carleton was fouled on her 3-point shot attempt. After her first two Free Throws hit nothing but net without even so much as a bat of an eyelash, the drama intensified as the Stars Coach called a time out, to not only discuss strategy but to also freeze the shooter. Of course Carleton in her repeatable Foul Line routine knocked the third one down go tie the game, and eventually send it into Overtime. Team Ontario would eventually go on to win the game, the last one of their five, in the second overtime frame.

Team Ontario’s younger team, the U15s, also found similar success going 3-3 in the tournament. The way I saw it, Kendra VanLeeuwen was the straw that stirred Team White’s drink. Good things tended to happen when when the offense flowed this smart Point Guard’s hands, especially benefitting her Posts Olivia Wilson and Oksana Gouchie-Provencher. The emergence of Bridget Mulholland was a nice one as throughout this event, marking a solid coming out party while she fit right in becoming a solid contributor on both ends of the floor.

The Toronto Junior Rams was the other Canadian team, of the 12 total that were there, that was able to notch three wins in Chicago. They were able to do so on the strength of strong Guard play that looked to push the pace of the game in the open court. Dani Nefekh, Linnaea Harper and Megan Brenkel were all players that caught my eye as major contributors to the Rams’ success. Nefekh found success completing a good percentage of her takes to the basket which in turn opened up several passing lanes for her to feed the likes of Brenkel, when she wasn’t breaking down players herself, and Harper, who’s size and abilities created matchup problems for several defenders. Not a bad showing at all for the newly created team in this their first ever tournament.

Here is a quick snapshot of how all of the other Canadians teams fared in the tournament:

Team Ontario Red (U17) – 3-2

Beat Colorado Elite Blue 50-34 Loss to PBR Sparks (TX) 37-36 Loss to Austin Elite RFW 43-42
Beat Arkansas New Life 54-25 Beat Minnesota Stars 59-55

Toronto Junior Rams (U17) – 3-2

Loss to All Iowa Attack Jenson 17U 49-40 Beat Illinois Defenders 17U Grey 54-46 Loss to Team Mariani 47-43
Beat BC Denver Stovall 47-36 Beat Purple Aces of Green Bay 17U 32-42

Team Ontario White (U15) – 3-3

Loss to North Tartan 15U 51-39 Beat CBC 15U 49-27 Beat MBA Select 2016 – Black 53-39
Beat Germantown Lady Panthers 48-27 Loss to All Ohio Black Sophomore 63-52 Loss to CBC U15

Team Alberta U17 – 2-3

Beat Colorado Elite 34-17 Loss to Illinois Black 17U 45-41 Loss to Wisconsin Hoops Select 52-40
Beat Junior Cascades 17U 33-28 Loss to Iowa Extreme 42-30

Toronto Triple Threat – 2-3

Beat Quad City Attack 55-47 Loss to Jersey Shore Wildcats 37-35 (OT) Loss to Wisconsin Lakers Black 44-36
Beat Classics 60-48 Loss to Indiana’s Finest 57-33

Junior Cascades U17 – 1-4

Loss to Iowa Extreme 55-43 Loss to Illinois Elite Black 17U 54-26 Loss to Team Alberta U17 33-28
Beat Colorado Elite White 59-55 Loss to Wisconsin Hoops Select 42-20

Greg Grant Basketball Canada – 2-3

Beat Beat Spiece Gym Rats – Purple 38-15 Beat Bulls Elite Scarlet 35-29 Loss to Wisconsin Blizzard 60-24
Loss to Sync 37-21 Loss to Fury 65-51

3D Elite Basketball U17 – 1-4

Loss to Illini Exteme 37-34 Loss to Gateway Basketball Club 52-25 Loss to Bulls Elite Onyx 52-30
Beat Higher Level Camps 37-21 Loss to Fencor 57-28

3D Elite Basketball U15 – 0-5

Loss to New Jersey Panthers 15U 32-23 Loss to Green Bay Metro Hoops 48-29 Loss to Illinois Pizazz Silver 55-37
Loss to Lakeside Elite Bates 55-24 Loss to Centennial Fury Black 42-16

Toronto Lords – 0-5

Loss to Kessel Heat 57-27 Loss to Clutch Players Red 51-31 Loss to California Storm 17U Elite 53-31
Loss to Colorado Premiere 17U Red 52-25 Loss to Team Blythe 45-30

KW Lightning – 0-5

Loss to WI Impact 2015 41-40 Loss to Iowa Dragons 54-44 Loss to WBA Prestige Blue 66-46
Loss to DSO – Michigan Sting Elite 2015 38-24 Loss to New Jersey Panthers 2015 43-26

Junior Cascades U16 – 0-5

Loss to Rush 17U Red 63-13 Loss to Eastern Ohio All-Stars 51-15 Loss to Vegas Bulldogs 43-16
Loss to Lady Meanstreets 53-16 Loss to All Iowa Attack 16U Red 49-27

The following are the latest profile updates based on this event:
Bridget Atkinson
Kacie Bosch
Megan Brenkel
Bridget Carleton
Cheyenne Creighton
Oksana Gouchie-Provencher
Lauren Handy
Nya Kogalt
Dani Nefekh
Chiderah Odiahuba
Aiden Rainford
Morgan Rosts
Chiso Ufondu
Kendra VanLeeuwen