In a season that already saw the team rack up win after win, the EDSS junior girls’ basketball team reached new heights Tuesday night by capturing its first-ever WCSSAA championship. The victory came over Cameron Heights Collegiate, the only team to which the Lancers had lost this year.
Heading into the finals November 12 at Huron Heights High School, the team could be forgiven for having at least some momentary doubts. The Lancers held a 11-0 record before they played CHCI on October 24 in a game that broke their winning streak with their first loss of the season. In the end, that was no obstacle for the team, said coach Jesse Buchenauer.
“We lost to them, so we’ll be hungry to hopefully get some revenge,” he said right after beating HHSS in the semi-final game last week.
In the first period both teams were well prepared as things picked up with the first points of the night from Macy Weber, the Lancers’ top scorer. Weber led the team with six points in the opening quarter, plus one more from teammate and long-time friend Caela McLennan, who quickly showed the other team what they were up against. While the Lancers fell behind 12-7 in the early going, things were still looking up.
Gaining some momentum, the EDSS team was not only hungry to win but they put in their best efforts coming into the second quarter. Keeping things moving, Weber came back with another six points with an additional two from Kyla Bloch, putting the Lancers up 17-14.
With a chance to catch their breath during the half-time break, the girls on both teams were eager to return and press for a win, especially CHCI, which had a perfect 12-0 record over the course of the season. One point after another, the score kept seesawing back and forth, keeping spectators on the edge of their seats.
Five more points came from Weber in the third quarter, with the pressure rising on the team that had history in its sights. CHCI was no easy competitor as they set the tone and fought back with 16 points during the quarter, not giving EDSS any chance to slow down. Bloch added two more points to put the Lancers at a 30-24 disadvantage.
As the Lancers fell behind the pressure started to build, with only seven minutes left on the clock for the girls to turn things around in the final quarter. The Gaels would score two, and the Lancers would respond – the outcome remained uncertain. Still, EDSS was able to step it up: Weber racked in seven more points, while Megan Hume added three.
Meanwhile, Delaney Cortes, who’d been missing her shots earlier in the game, finally hit her stride, hitting a three-pointer and then adding three more to put the Lancers in the lead.
EDSS was back on top with just minutes to go. The Gaels made a push of their own, but suffered a setback when their top scorer, Milana Nenadic, was benched for the remainder of the game for five fouls, which set the tone for the remaining time. The seconds passed by and the buzzer sounded resulting in a 40-38 victory for the underdogs.
The new WCSSAA champions were excited and overjoyed to win.
“Defense wins’ games, hard D. It feels amazing,” said Weber on winning the finals.
All season long Buchenauer worked with the girls to show them that defense is what wins’ championships. “We knew they are a strong offensive team but our fundamentals all year long have been defense – we really wanted to prove that defense wins’ championships and it worked out well for us,” he added.
When the season first started mid-September things broke off to a great start for the Grade 9 and 10 Lancers who proved their game and skill right from the start with a 56-13 win over Preston High School. Followed by an impressive knock out game once again that resulted in a 59-7 win over the Forest Heights Collegiate Institute on September 24.The weeks went on and the team quickly proved that they were serious about claiming the winning spot this year.
Now reality sets in for the team who worked their hardest all season to prove to themselves what they’re capable of, but also that EDSS has a young basketball squad that warrants watching in the following years.
With the team claiming its first title, there’s so much more to come from the underdogs who took the championship.
“I’m the happiest for the girls and all their hard work this past season; just being able to see their smiles makes it all worth it,” said Buchenauer of the winning results.