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Sigurdson Wills Red Knights To OFSAA 4A Consolation Finals Win



On November 25, 2012, the 11th ranked Northern Secondary Red Knights of Toronto, ON claimed the Ontario Federation of Secondary School Athletics 4A (OFSAA) Consolation Title with a 53-56 victory over the 8th seeded Notre Dame Lady Cougars.

Mckenzie Sigurdson (5’8″, PG, 2013) led her team in dramatic fashion for the Red Knights, scoring 26 points and over coming an injury in the process.

Northern approached the game very strategically. And, understanding their strengths, they decided to play to them. It was a strategy that they found success with early and often. They stayed away from the fast paced approach and recognized that the half court setting is where they would benefit.

Some of what brought them success was the three fouls picked up in the First Quarter by Notre Dame’s Brianna Thomas. This played right in to the strategy of the Red Knights, forcing the Lady Cougars to ease off of the pressure they looked to establish.

“We had seen that they had been pressing and creating a lot of problems with the other teams”, said Northern Head Coach, Michael Ross. “What we really wanted to do was mix speed with that and utilize our good handler, Julia, who is a ‘big’ and make their ‘big’ defend that. We were able to space the floor and get some wide open looks for Mckenzie because of their over commitment on the press. And, that nice lead gave us the confidence early and then we really started to work on being patient and worked for our shots once we got that early lead.”

The strategy proved successful. And with Sigurdson making the most of the one-on-one coverage Northern was able to put Notre Dame in a hole early. By Halftime, the Red Knights enjoyed a solid 33-24 lead, with Sigurdson scoring 17 points, including three 3-Pointers and 6-for-6 shooting from the Free Throw line.

Having herself done her homework before the game, Sigurdson used the First Half to carry out her own keys to the game, which meant having a strategy offensively for the types of defences she expected from Notre Dame.

“If it was a zone, I wanted to get my three going on, so that when they went go back to man, I could then drive it in and take it in for the layup and/or get my other players involved”, said Sigurdson

One of the teammates that she did get involved and was a tremendous contributor to their success was Julia Chandler.

Chandler was called upon to go to battle with Iziegbe (Lorraine) Enabulele on both ends of the floor and certainly held her own against the Lady Cougar Power Forward. It was a really good matchup that saw Chandler have quite a bit of success by forcing Enabulele to earn any scores on the defensive end.

On offense, her strength on the block resulted in positive results as did her ability to play faced-up and connect from distance. Often bringing Enabulele out to the perimeter to Guard Chandler, opened up lanes for Sigurdson, who had nothing but praise for Chandler.

“She’s great ‘big’ and she’s only in Grade 10. I can only imaging what she’s going to be like in Grade 12.”

“We were playing an aggressive, high 2-3 [zone defence]. What we were trying to do was keep Brianna out those comfortable shooting positions and try to make them get to the sidelines then trap,” said Ross, “so that they didn’t have their comfort in setting up their offence.”

Late in the Third Quarter, while implementing one of those trap situations, Sigurdson received an elbow just over her eye and was down for several minutes. Red Knight fans breathed a sigh of relief when she was able to get back to her feet.

“Basically I was doubling one of the players, and her elbow just came and hit me right across my temple area. I didn’t feel that bad [at first], but then i saw blood. I’m perfectly fine,” said the tough competitor.

But while being attended to by the Athletic Therapist, she was going to miss a crucial chunk of the game. A significant chunk, yes, but Sigurdson was bent on making sure, she could get on the court for the last time in her high school career, and to make sure it ended on a positive note.

“The whole time I was like ‘Can I play? Can I go back in?’. I was really antsy to get back in and play. But, I got back in”, she thought during the precautionary steps the Therapist was taking.

“This is my last [high school] game and wanted to make sure we were going to win. We were only up by six [when I returned to the game] and we were up by eleven when I left. I just want to get in there and when I did, I hit Julia with the layup which was great. Julia had a great game, and all my players did, I was really proud of them.”

So what does the future look like for Northern? According to Coach Ross, it appears to be promising. But because you never know what the future will bring, it was important to make the most of this opportunity while it presented itself.

“We had two [Grade] 10’s (Julia Chandler and 5’6″, Guard, Laura Kinoshita) and a [Grade] 9 (6’2″, Center, Emma Fraser) starting out there and then of course a [Grade] 11 (6’0″, Forward, Sabina Migden). We’ve got a lot there. And our Junior Girls were the [Toronto Public] City Champions. So, the future program’s going strong.” He went on to mitigate future expectations by adding, “We’ll have very tough competition with Eastern [Commerce] and North Toronto next year so I mean, you gotta enjoy these moments when you get ‘em. There’s no guarantees even though were young.”

Leading Scorers
Northern: Mckenzie Sigurdson – 26 points; Julia Chandler – 13 points
Notre Dame: Iziegbe Enabulele – 17 points; Jazzy Simons – 13 points

Click here for other 2012 OFSAA 4A Results