Main photo: (Back from left) Grace Kujala, Shianne Reynolds, Morgan Smith, Zoe Long; (front from left) Maggie Pitts, Riley Truax, Kaiya Roberson, and Jenna Yeo. Not pictured: Monique Boyko and coaches Michael Simonett, Sheila Roberson, Kristina Truax, and Austin Simonett. (Photo: Sheila Roberson)
With the odds stacked against them, the Huntsville Hurricanes U16 Girls team fought hard to bring home a bronze medal from the Ontario Cup Provincial Championship.
The team travelled to Ottawa from April 27 to 29 to participate in Division 6 (out of eight) and were recognized as fourth of eight teams with a 10 win and six loss record. But they had fewer players than the opposing teams—which all had between 10 and 14 players—and shorter stature.
Still, they were up for the challenge. “With only 9 players and not blessed with a lot of height the girls needed to play together as a team to play pressure defence and score in transition by running the floor,” said Coach Michael Simonett.
The girls played three round robin games, the results of which would decide their berth in the finals, if any.
Game one had the Hurricanes meet the Capital Xelles from Ottawa. After a close-fought first three quarters, Huntsville was down by only one point, 28-27. In the final quarter, Huntsville outscored the local Ottawa team 16-6 and won by a final score of 44-33. Huntsville’s top scorer was Riley Truax with 24 points, Jenna Yeo with nine rebounds and Morgan Smith with four assists and three steals.
The next morning, Huntsville met their biggest opponent, the Barrie Royals. Once again the Hurricanes found themselves in a close match as both teams sunk basket for basket during the first three quarters with Huntsville leading by one basket 28-26, but they weren’t able to hold that lead. “The Huntsville squad was tired and were outplayed by their larger opponents in the fourth quarter and eventually lost 40 to 31,” said Simonett. Jenna Yeo was the top scorer of this game with 15 points; Morgan Smith, Zoe Long and Jenna Yeo supported the team with 10 rebounds each; and Riley Truax had four steals.
That afternoon, the Hurricanes took to the court against Guelph CYO for their third and final round robin game. By half time, the Hurricanes were up by three points, 30-27. Huntsville needed to win to advance to the bronze medal game so the team “pulled away with relentless defence,” said Simonett, and the girls won 65-49. Riley Truax led the way with 26 points, six assists and seven steals. Jenna Yeo had 13 rebounds and 11 points while Zoe Long had 11 rebounds and six assists and Maggie Pitts had a season-high nine points.
Huntsville moved on to the bronze medal game, taking the floor with the Dundas Dynamo on April 29.
“The undermanned and undersized Hurricanes were struggling to have enough energy with only eight players for their fourth game in 48 hours, and trailed by five entering the fourth quarter,” said Simonett. “Incredible intensity highlighted by a relentless full-court defence for the entire fourth quarter saw the Hurricanes, at one point, score three baskets on turnovers in an incredible 10-second period. Dundas wouldn’t give up but the Hurricanes held on to win 64 – 57 despite Riley Truax and Kaiya Roberson fouling out with two minutes to go and Huntsville only up two points at the time leaving Hurricanes with only one eligible player on the bench.”
Six of the eight players scored at least seven points led by Riley Truax with 14 points. Every player had at least one rebound with seven players gaining at least four led by Jenna Yeo with eight. The ultimate team effort included all eight players.
“Incredibly, the team had a season high of 20 steals to win the bronze medal. The final game of the season was the best example of ‘team of the year,'” said Simonett.
Don’t miss out on Doppler! Sign up for our free newsletter here.