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Seneca Sting Women's Basketball gets pumped before an OCAA regular season game in January.
Seneca Sting Women’s Basketball players look back on the season that was – and the
championship challenge ahead
By: Aneela Khan, Seneca Student Sports Reporter
The Seneca Sting Varsity Women’s Basketball team is considered by many observers, a force to be reckoned with in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA).
As they wrap-up, what has been to this point, a very successful regular campaign (15-1 record, 2nd seed in the East Region), they hope to end things on a golden note this weekend, as Seneca hosts the 2012 OCAA Women’s Basketball Championship (March 1-3, Newnham Gymnasium, Seneca College).
The fact that the biggest games of the season will take place on their home court, gives the team increased motivation to get the job done.
In order to get to the dance, Seneca has had to remain focused and ready, practicing daily, which also means practicing during provincial holidays like Family Day.
When the players were able to take a break from practicing foul shots, layup drills, and screens, they reflected on the season that’s been.
Guard Tara Minicuci, a first-year member of the Sting offers her thoughts on the experience as a Seneca student-athlete.
“It’s been great. It always helps being a part of a winning team. My experience as a Seneca Sting varsity player has been wonderful and everyone’s been great and very welcoming and I’ve had a lot of fun so far.”
Minicuci also explains why she feels her team has been so dominant this season.
“Everything starts from our defensive intensity. We really focus on that during practice. We try to play team defence and start playing our game from that end.”
Forward Lauren Egglestone, who is in her second year with the team, believes the reason for why Seneca’s has been such a dominant season, is the collective sense of understanding for one another’s situations.
“I say that what we have something, a quality, that other teams sometimes struggle with – and that’s team chemistry. Everyone’s on the same page. We all like each other on and off the court. Coach is instilling in us sound defence and an understanding that we take have to take pride in defence. Everyone’s buying into that which makes us all play really well together.”
Centre Tamara Nembhard, in her last year with the Sting and proudly graduating this semester from the Early Childhood Education program, sums up her team in one word.
“Family. The reason I say family is because it’s my home away from home and it allows me the chance to relax and escape the real world.”
She also describes her impactful experience as a Seneca student-athlete.
“My whole experience has been wonderful. I’ve changed a lot as a person because my coach has taught me a lot about taking things from basketball and applying it to real life. I feel like a better person and I’m more confident in terms of what I can do in the future.”
Guard Samantha Evans, recently named OCAA Athlete of the Week (on Feb. 5) is grateful for the honour and the accolades that come with success but doesn’t get lost in the hype.
“I just smiled when I found out about it. I feel like I’ve put my all into the court and I finally got recognized for it which is a very good feeling. But we’re not about individuals on this team; we’re about family.”
The players also reflected on their most memorable games from this season.
For Minicuci it was playing against and beating a rival.
“The most memorable game for me has to be Algonquin. We beat them on their home court and I think we are ready to beat them again if we, hopefully, meet in the OCAAs.”
Egglestone shared a similar sentiment.
“Like Tara said, beating Algonquin, that was our first big game. We didn’t know each other back then, like we do now, and we all just came together and pulled out the win, which was really cool.”
Nembhard had a different take on her most memorable game.
For her it was about celebrating the team.
“The most memorable game for me would be the game against St. Lawrence. We beat them by 88 points and it was the first time we reached 100 points. To beat a team by 88 is astonishing and everybody got an opportunity to showcase their skills. Our defensive game was also amazing. It was also memorable for me because we broke records”.
Evans’ most memorable game of the season involved competing with friends.
“The George Brown game was the most memorable game for me because I have a lot of friends on that team and we go back and forth just arguing whose better, and what not, and I think it was the first time I went into double digit scoring along with rebounding. I ended up getting a double double. Overall, I think the game went well and it was pretty sweet having the upper hand on my friends.”
When the topic of conversation changed to who the players wanted to face in the OCAA Championship, both Minicuci and Egglestone chose Algonquin – arguing they wanted to face the best and biggest test.
Nembhard, meanwhile, explains why she takes a more zen approach and accepts that she doesn’t have a choice in who the team will face.
“I’m not looking forward to meeting any of the teams in the OCAAs because we’ve beaten every single one of them in the OCAA, and on any given day, and at any given time, a team could beat you, so I’m just focused on whatever challenge we come across and we hopefully beat them and go on to the next game.”
In order for a team to be this successful, at one point, they must come to a realization that they are a truly special and unique unit. When the players were asked where and when that moment took place they all had different perspectives.
Egglestone believed that moment occurred in an exhibition game.
“We played Humber in an exhibition game. If I recall correctly we won in OT and it was by like two points and that’s when everyone came together and said that we were going to win this game. We addressed the issues that we had in the game and Coach [Craig] Walker was a big part of that.”
Nembhard believes the moment took place after the exhibition game.
“I noticed it just after the preseason. I noticed that it was a really good group of girls who fit well together. Everyone plays their roles and as soon as second semester came, I thought to myself, WOW! This team is really good defensively. Everyone gets it, everyone’s buying into the game plan and I feel like overall, out of the three years that I’ve been a part of the team that this is the best team I’ve ever been on.”
Coach Walker has players excited to play for him and committed to defence. Evans offers her opinion on her coach.
“He’s kind of funny. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He’s a good guy at heart. He pushes the team and he drew the best out of me putting me as captain and in a different position for me to grow which was hard at first but it made my character grow stronger which is a very good thing.”
According to Egglestone he is also a very good motivator.
“He’s an amazing coach. When he believes in something he really believes in it. He believes our defence is number one and thanks to him we all have the same thinking. We all have the same passion for the game that he does.”
Tamara Nembhard explains why all Seneca students and staff should come-out and support the home team.
“This is my last year and what’s better than graduating with an OCAA gold medal? We really can win the gold because our team is stellar and committed. I’m truly overjoyed to be here with these girls along with the best coaching staff and I couldn’t ask for anything more. We need the fans to be just as committed as we are during the OCAAs. I think Seneca will represent!”
The 2012 OCAA Women’s Basketball Championship takes place March 1-3 at Seneca College’s Newnham Campus Gymnasium. Seneca’s first game is Thursday, March 1 at 6 p.m. versus the Sheridan Bruins (13-5, 3rd in the West Region). Find more tournament information at www.SenecaSting.ca/2012WomensBasketball.