Friday night, thousands of people in this city had their minds on how and where they were going to celebrate the New Year. However, before they could get their festivities underway, the Concordia women’s basketball team had a little business to take care of at the Concordia Reebok Invitational.
The three day tourney, which pit eight quality teams from around the country against each other, concluded on Friday with the championship match between the Stingers (ranked #8 in Canada) and tournament favorite Victoria Vikes (#6).
Although the Stingers dropped the final by a 68-60 margin, they didn’t go down before providing fans with one of the most entertaining games played at Loyola Gym this year. “Playing against these teams gives our confidence a real boost,” Concordia rookie Stephanie Ramonas said of her first invitational.
Concordia opened the tournament with a solid 69-58 victory over the Laurentian Voyageurs, which they then followed with a narrow 71-69 win against the Memorial Sea Hawks to advance to the finals. Stingers captain, Pascale Morin, was a force, averaging 21 points in the first two games. That effort would earn her a spot as one of the tournament all-stars.
After Victoria advanced to the finals with a 57-55 squeaker over the less-than-impressive Bishop’s Gaiters, it seemed like they should have been ripe for defeat, however it also turned out that they saved their best for last.
While there were several quality performances on both sides of the court, no one came remotely close to matching the epic 26-point performance from Vikes’ guard Jody Potts. After hitting just one three-pointer in her previous two matches, Potts unloaded with a 6-for-9 performance from behind the arc.
Although Potts turned in the game’s most dominant performance, the start of the match had both teams showing off strong offensive rhythm as the Vikes held a 21-17 lead midway through the first half. Unfortunately, the physical nature of match looked to be wearing down the Stingers who had some difficulties clearing their own zone and getting quality looks at the basket.
Victoria, on the other hand, was in the process of starting a route, as they used the end portion of a 13-1 run to build a 26-17 lead. Although Concordia would come back within a couple of baskets, they finished the half trailing 36-27.
With the Stingers on their last leg and fading fast, Melanie Larocque and Maria-Jose Raposo temporarily breathed new life back into their team with back-to-back threes as they helped cut the Vikes lead to 46-45 with less than ten minutes left on the clock. However, just when it seemed that their perimeter shooting was starting to fail the Vikes, Potts stepped-up and made a big three to revive her team’s energy. The Jody Potts Show continued with another three and back-to-back steals at halfcourt, which she easily turned into two more scores.
That brutal sequence would be too much for Concordia to rebound from as they trailed by 13 points and lost the game 68-60.
After his team’s championship win, Victoria coach Brian Cheng had compliments for both his team and the tournament. “I think this is the best of the Christmas tournaments that I’ve been to. Any of the eight teams could have beaten each other on any night,” Cheng said. “We’re a very close team that sticks to what it believes in. It’s just a bunch of kids that love to play together.”
One of the key members to that tight-knit team is forward Jania Mynott who walked away with tournament MVP. “It feels great but I’m not sure that I deserve it. My team really helped me; they’re the ones that stand by me night after night,” she said.
“This is definitely a nice change from playing the same Can West teams every week.”