Big Country Athlethic’s Sr. team is pooling their resources after a series of injuries shortened their bench.
More and more of Big Country Jr’s team are joining the Sr. team roster, and getting a taste of the competition they’ll face in the future.
“The majority of the team is 15 and 16 years olds, a couple of them are 14, so already they’re playing against girls who are a lot older, taller, bigger and stronger than them, but in Ontario they’re used to that,” said Head Coach Lisa Lavarone.
The team is fighting through a tough bout of injuries, with three players leaving the game on the second day of play, alone. Big Country Sr. entered the tournament with a full roster of 14 healthy girls, but has had to call girls up from their Jr. team in order to continue to compete.
“Its better for them,” Lavarone said of the challenges they’re being faced with, “they need to learn to play through adversity, so it’s a good learning curve for them.”
Injuries seem to push the rest of the team to play harder for their bruised teammates. Their game against Jr. Heat was close, until one of their players went down.
Halfway through the game, Sabrina Smith suffered a bad fall which took her out of the game. Up until that point it was a back and forth game with a close score.
“They just get pissed off and angry when things don’t go their way, or when people get hurt,” Lavarone said of how her team reacts, “and that switches something in their brain and they just go off.”
And they did. Big Country came off the bench with a vengeance, steadily widening the gap in the score, and pushing ahead to a 71-54 win.
“They started anticipating the passing lanes and they will go get the steals,” the coach said of what she saw, “we got maybe 4 or 5 steals in the two minutes following Sabrina’s fall, when they’re like that they shoot well and finish their layups.”
Being from Ontario, the team is used to playing against some stiff competition, and adapting their game accordingly, something they’ve had to do since coming to bballnationals.
“The major difference I’ve noticed here is the other players’ height and strength. Many of them are just bigger in comparison to ours, I think we’re 5’4 across the board.”
The team has played with a small team their whole season and understands how to play to their strengths. Being from a province with a highly developed club program, Big Country makes sharp passes, patience with the ball, and take smart shots, all of which are characteristics of Ontario basketball.
The team has played well thus far, earning themselves a 3-0 record, but Lavarone has higher expectations for her team.
“We need to take care of the turnovers, lately we’ve been turning it over more than I’ve seen this summer,” she said of what she’s seen from her team so far, “we just need to make sure that we’re concentrating on making layups, it’s the little things that we have practiced throughout the year that we arent doing right now.”
The team is entering Saturday hopeful there won’t be any more injuries, and they can stay healthy enough to continue to compete at the tournament for the duration of the weekend.
Written by: Sarah Reid