Season recaps: Stingers basketball teams battle to the bitter end

In a COVID-shortened year, both Stingers basketball teams handled the uncertainty like professionals.

Men’s basketball

*Concordia lost in the RSEQ Final vs. McGill on Saturday. The final score was 48-46.

The Stingers men’s team finished second in the regular season with a 6-6 record. Concordia showed glimpses of a team that could run away with the RSEQ championship at times, but struggled to put everything together for extended stretches, particularly on offense. Defensively, the Stingers were suffocating by staying active on ball handlers, poking balls loose and forcing turnovers. They led the RSEQ in scoring defence, holding their opposition to 63 points-per-game on 38 per cent shooting. 

Concordia guard/forward Oge Nwoko (14) prepares to inbound the ball during the RSEQ semi-final match between Bishop’s and Concordia on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. REUBAN POLANSKY SHAPIRO/The Concordian

Rastko Popovic, the Stingers’ head coach, always emphasized the importance of defence. In basketball, he explained how offense can occasionally be hard to come by, even if a team is producing open looks at the basket. Players can only optimize their chances of making a basket. Conversely, defence essentially boils down to effort and basketball IQ, elements of the sport that are much easier to control. Concordia instilled their coach’s philosophy on most nights, but struggled with mental lapses that would cost them down the stretch in important games. 

In a year filled with uncertainty, Olivier Simon was Concordia’s most consistent player once again. The fifth-year veteran earned first all-star team honours, finishing second in the RSEQ scoring race and tallying a little over 16 points-per-game. In his 11 games played, he showed his versatility beyond scoring, averaging 7.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest. 

In his sophomore season with the Stingers, Sami Jahan built on his 2020 all-rookie campaign by making the second all-star team. Though he struggled with poor shot selection and questionable decision making at times, the Ontario native was never afraid of the moment. Jahan trailed only Simon in scoring for the team, and was Concordia’s primary ball handler when the Stingers offence stalled and was in desperate need for production. 

Steve Mbida Abomo, a rookie forward from Cameroon, instantly made an impact for the Stingers on his way to making the RSEQ all-rookie team. He earned Popovic’s trust early in the season, starting in eight of 10 games and averaging the second most minutes on the team. Though Alec Phaneuf didn’t earn any individual honours in his rookie season, his unselfishness on offence mixed with his defensive awareness made the difference in a few competitive games. Alongside Jahan’s scoring instincts, the future is bright for the Stingers backcourt.

Concordia guard Caroline Task (7) led the Stingers in scoring with 17 total points in the RSEQ semifinals on March 23, 2022. KYRAN THICKE/Concordia Stingers

Women’s basketball

*Concordia lost in the RSEQ semifinals vs. UQAM last Wednesday. The final score was 75-68

The Stingers women’s team finished first in the conference with a 9-3 record, winning the regular season title for the first time since 1998-99. Concordia won seven of their last eight, including a 100-44 beatdown of McGill in their final showing. Anything can happen in a best-of-one playoff format however, as the Stingers ran into a well-prepared UQAM team that managed to pull off the upset. 

Whereas Popovic distributed the men’s team’s minutes throughout the regular season, women’s head coach Tenicha Gittens stuck to her most reliable weapons for larger stretches of games. Myriam Leclerc, Coralie Dumont, and Caroline Task played over 30 minutes a game for the women’s team, a significant load compared to Simon’s team-leading 27 minutes for the men. Gittens stuck to her veterans through thick and thin, regardless of their play. On the other hand, Popovic constantly shifted the starting lineups and adjusted the minute load depending on the state of the game and who played well. 

Despite a slow start to the season by her standards, Leclerc was Concordia’s number one option on offence. Coming off a torn ACL in the 2019-20 season, once her confidence returned it was tough to ignore how crucial she was to Concordia’s success. The third-year guard earned first all-star team honours and was also nominated for the U Sports Tracy MacLeod Award, which recognizes perseverance and courage in the sport. For the season, Leclerc averaged 16 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 2.6 steals in nearly 36 minutes per game. She also led the nation in free-throw percentage at 95.9 per cent on 49 attempts. Gittens won Coach of the Year for the team’s strong regular season showing, and Stingers fifth-year guard Task joined Leclerc on the first all-star team. She was the team’s best three-point shooter by a wide margin when you factor in her high volume. Task shot 41.9 per cent on 74 attempts. 

Dumont earned second all-star team honours in her third year with the Stingers, imposing her will on offensive boards and drawing fouls at an elite rate. Nelly Owusu was nominated for the U Sports Sylvia Sweeney Award, which is presented to the player who best exemplifies leadership and social commitment in women’s basketball. Finally, centre Serena Tchida made the conference’s all-rookie team after a long-term knee injury kept her sidelined in the 2019-20 season.


Photographs by Matt Garies, Reuben Polansky-Shapiro, Kyran Thicke 


Concordia defends their home court in basketball double-header vs. Laval

The Stingers men’s and women’s basketball teams handled business over the weekend, and have yet to drop a game since the return to play.

Women’s Basketball: Concordia 68-65 Laval

Coming off a 66-60 victory over Laval on Thursday, the Stingers were looking to sweep the Rouge et Or in the week in their Saturday afternoon rematch. Despite a late rally by Laval in the fourth quarter, Concordia was able to secure the win, tying for the top seed in the RSEQ regular season standings in the process. Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens described Concordia’s back-to-back wins over Laval as important character builders. 

“We’re digging deep and making the extra plays,” Gittens said. “Basketball is not a perfect game, we strive to execute perfectly on both ends of the floor but it’s extremely rare to see a team play a flawless game. The whole point is to make sure that you’re the team that does a little bit more.”

The Stingers defence held Laval to six points in the opening quarter, but went into the halftime up only two points because of poor shooting woes and Laval opting to increase the pace of the game and push the ball in transition off Concordia’s misses. 

“In the second quarter, I thought we were bailing Laval out and putting them at the free-throw line too often. So the message at the half was about making sure we stayed disciplined and limiting their transition chances,” Gittens said. 

In the second half, Myriam Leclerc put on a show on offence as the primary ball-handler without Areej Burgonio in the lineup. The third-year Stingers guard tallied 29 points, and shot a perfect 15-15 from the free-throw line in a closely contested game. Leclerc proved she can handle the pressure, collecting eight rebounds and a pair of steals and assists to cap off her dominant showing.

Last week, Gittens outlined some expectations ahead of the second half of the regular season. Concordia’s head coach was adamant in predicting that Leclerc would step up in a big way for the team as she gradually worked her way back into playing shape following an injury to her knee. 

Over the last two games, the Stingers’ third-year guard is averaging 24.5 total points on 16 shot attempts per game, quickly cementing herself as an opposing defence’s nightmare. 

“I feel like I’m at 100 per cent,” Leclerc said. “Having the trust of my coaches and teammates helped a lot during my rehab. Right now, I’m confident that I’m back.” 

Myriam Leclerc led the Concordia Stingers on offence with 29 total points against the Laval Rouge et Or, Feb. 19. Kyran Thicke / Concordia Stingers

Men’s Basketball: Concordia 75-69 Laval

In their second meeting of the week, Concordia erased a first half deficit to defeat Laval at home. The Stingers bench provided a game-altering spark in the third quarter, which carried into the fourth quarter where Concordia held Laval scoreless through five minutes. 

Though the Rouge et Or made a valiant attempt at a comeback by scoring at will in the dying minutes of the game, Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic was pleased with the resilience the Stingers showed after slow starts in both their matchups versus Laval. 

“We played a bit timid down the stretch hoping for the time to expire and we simply can’t do that,” Popovic said. “But overall our players did a great job of adjusting and following the game plan in the second half.”  

For the second game in a row, Marc-André Fortin led the way for Laval on offence, finishing the game with 23 points on 11 made field goals. Though the Rouge et Or centre caused problems for the Stingers, Concordia’s defence was able to contain Laval on the boards, and forced their opponents to commit 20 turnovers. 

On Thursday, the Stingers were led by Concordia’s veteran starters Olivier Simon (22 total points, eight rebounds) and Sami Jahan (15 total points, five assists). The script was flipped on Saturday, where the team’s production came largely from their second unit in the second half. 

Stingers rookie guard Alec Phaneuf orchestrated the team’s efficient offence and registered nine points and eight assists without committing a single turnover. Additionally, forwards Félix-Antoine Guertin and Aleksa Popadic connected on three and four three-pointers respectively that deflated Laval’s defence. 

Once Popovic found a lineup that was proving to be successful both offensively and defensively, he kept them on the floor instead of substituting the starters back in the game without a second thought. This coaching concept is only possible with a deep team, one which has a variety of weapons at its disposal. Phaneuf went scoreless in six minutes played on Thursday, but knew he needed to stay ready for when his number got called.

“Every game this year is going to be different because we have a lot of depth,” said Phaneuf. “At the end of the day, everyone knows what’s important is the win, so whoever is feeling it is going to get more time on the floor.”

This Thursday, the Stingers basketball teams will host Bishop’s at Concordia Stadium. In-person attendance is prohibited, but watch the Concordia Stingers live or on-demand here.

Photos by Kyran Thicke


A long-awaited return to competition for Concordia’s basketball program

The extended pause to the RSEQ regular season was a burdensome time for the Stingers, but has given the teams additional time to fix issues in their game

On Monday, the RSEQ announced the resumption of university games as of Feb. 14, following Premier Legault’s press conference last Tuesday. Before the return of the regular season, here’s what you need to know about the Stingers basketball teams. 

Women’s Basketball

Concordia finished their November slate of games with an underwhelming 2-2 record after a promising start to the season, which saw the Stingers beat McGill and Bishop’s in commanding fashion. Head coach of the women’s team Tenicha Gittens knows her players have the ability and talent to win on any given night, but has preached consistency above all else over the extended break. 

“The first four games were like a rollercoaster ride for us,” Gittens said. “It’s one thing to be good, […] but we’ve been working on finding the competitive fire and sense of urgency from the jump. The RSEQ is well balanced, so we really need to bring our A game every single night.”

“Right now, we have this bitter taste in our mouth from the way things ended [in November], so it’s about keeping that level of urgency throughout.” 

In some ways, the long layoff from competition was a blessing in disguise for the Stingers. For the players with high-usage rates like Caroline Task, Coralie Dumont, and Nelly Owusu, the break allowed their bodies to recover for a looming playoff push.

Several players were coming off injuries to begin the season, and used the time to properly adjust to the in-game intensity. Johannie Lamoureux is a first-year guard who has been out of the lineup this season due to concussion protocols, but should now be getting significant minutes according to Gittens. Serena Tchida is another freshman who will need time to bounce back from her past knee setbacks.

Gittens praised the entire team for the dedication they’ve shown during the hiatus, but emphasized two players in particular.

“Myriam [Leclerc] is just a naturally gifted player. She can average 14 points [per game] and people think she’s okay, but really she can average about 22 [points per game]. We’re starting to see glimpses of that and that’s really exciting,” Gittens said.

“Areej Burgonio gets the whole team going,” Gittens added. “She’s exciting, she’s our heart, our energy.”

Men’s Basketball

Much like the women’s squad, the Stingers men are looking to improve on their 2-2 record. In discussing the first four games of the year, men’s basketball head coach Rastko Popovic was proud of the way the team defended down the stretch.

“Our game against Bishop’s [on Nov. 18], we kept them under 50 points, which isn’t something you see often in our league when you see some scores in the 80s and 90s,” Popovic explained. “In practice, we spend a lot of time working on our defence, because we can’t really control our offence, but what we can control is how hard we move our feet and rebound.”

At the end of the day, defence can only take a team so far, and the team’s offence, particularly their three-point shooting, will eventually need to follow suit. Through four games, the Stingers have gone 23-106 on their attempts from beyond-the-arc, which come out to a little under 22 per cent. Popovic was quick to point out that many of the looks were wide-open, and said it’s simply on the players to knock them down. 

“Olivier Simon has been very dominant for us, but we need to do a better job of supporting him outside the paint by knocking down our threes,” Popovic said. “If we can do that, the entire offence will open up for us.”

Simon has led the Stingers in scoring and total rebounds in three out of four games played so far, demonstrating his importance to Concordia’s system as their go-to guy. Popovic was also impressed with his rookie guards Alec Phaneuf and Olivier Koumassou Bernier, who earned their spot in the rotation. Sami Jahan had a slow start in his sophomore year considering his standout rookie status in the 2019-20 season, but the Stingers coach expects the point guard to bounce back from his shooting slump in the second half of the season. 

Popovic would have liked his team to have had more time to practice together, but said he’s happy to see his players get a chance to do what they love again.

“With only eight games when things start back up, it’s going to be like a mini season where every game will become even more crucial for standings in the playoffs,” Popovic remarked. “It’s exciting and if we can improve our offence, I think we’ll be a very fun team to watch.”


Photograph by Catherine Reynolds


The Buzz: Stingers weekend recap

Concordia’s basketball teams struggle with their offence, men’s hockey improve to 2-0 against McGill for the season

Concordia vs. Laval Women’s Basketball game on November 20th, 2021. CATHERINE REYNOLDS/The Concordian

Women’s Basketball: Concordia 67-70 Laval

The women’s basketball team went into the weekend sitting comfortably at 2-0 for the regular season, and looked to add to their impressive start with a win over the defending RSEQ champion Laval Rouge et Or. The Stingers couldn’t get the job done however, despite a strong fourth quarter showing that nearly stole them the game where they outscored Laval 17-9. 

The Stingers offence shot poorly all afternoon, going 23-75 from the field and 4-20 from three-point range. Considering they barely made 30 per cent of their shots, the fact Concordia nearly won is a testament to the team’s defensive effort. In particular, the pressure they were able to generate resulted in 12 Rouge et Or turnovers, compared to the Stingers’ six. 

For Laval, Léa Dominique led the team in total points (17), total rebounds (9), and blocks (3). In her 27 minutes played, she was an efficient 7-10 on field goal attempts and carried the team both offensively and defensively. Every Stingers starter played over 33 minutes, but Coralie Dumont’s play was exceptional. She finished the game with 23 total points, nine rebounds, and three steals. 

Concordia vs. Laval Men’s Basketball game on November 20 2021. CATHERINE REYNOLDS/The Concordian

Men’s Basketball: Concordia 71-78 Laval

Concordia were coming off a dominant 72-46 win over Bishop’s on Thursday before they faced the Rouge et Or at home on Saturday. But the Stingers defence never found its footing against Laval, who made 50 per cent of their shots for the game. 

The Stingers went 24-67 from the floor, and struggled with shot quality as opposed to Laval who generated open looks at the basket on most of their possessions. Much like the women’s team did before them, Concordia defensive pressure created 16 Laval turnovers, but the Stingers never made the visiting team pay for their mistakes.

Olivier Simon played 36 minutes for the Stingers and ended the game with 22 total points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, while Sami Jahan contributed 21 points off the bench. On the other hand, Laval had three efficient double-figure scorers: Steeve Joseph (24), Sidney Tremblay-Lacombe (20), and Marc-André Fortin (14) all contributed to Laval’s balanced and lethal attack. 

Concordia vs. McGill Men’s Hockey game on November 21 2021. CATHERINE REYNOLDS/The Concordian

Men’s Hockey: Concordia 4-2 McGill

The Stingers faced the Redbirds on Sunday for the second time in three nights and took care of business at home once again. McGill scored the game’s opening goal at the midway point of the first period, but Concordia would score four unanswered goals and went into the second intermission up by three. Alexander Katerinakis led the Stingers with a goal and an assist on consecutive Concordia power play opportunities to start the second period. 

The Stingers generated 36 shots on goal, compared to the Redbirds’ 28. Both teams struggled with discipline, as 33 total penalties were issued by the time the final whistle blew. A Redbirds breakaway goal on the penalty kill late in the third period by Phil Gilmour made no difference in the final outcome. 

The Stingers’ next matchup will be against the UQTR Patriotes on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at Concordia Stadium.


Photographs by Catherine Reynolds


A long road to recovery for Serena Tchida

Concordia Stingers basketball forward Serena Tchida battled adversity to get to where she is today

In 2019, Serena Tchida’s collegiate basketball career was taking off. Playing for Cégep Édouard-Montpetit, her knack for rebounding and finishing around the rim was able to draw the attention of Concordia Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens in January.

Tchida had excelled in basketball since she first picked up the sport at 15 years old. Now, in the midst of recruitment, all the six-foot forward needed was to showcase her abilities one more time. 

She had no idea that would be the last five-on-five game she would play. 

“In the first quarter, I partially tore my ACL,” Tchida said. “I had never been injured before besides some ankle issues, so during the game I wanted to go back on the court and play through it. I knew coach [Gittens] was recruiting me but my coach at the time told me to slow down and sit for the game because it’s my knee.” 

Tchida took some time to rest in the days following the game and managed to reduce the swelling in her right knee. Upon returning to practice with her team, despite the precautions she would fully tear her ACL.

“There were times when I wanted to quit [basketball], but coach [Gittens] helped steer me back in the right direction. She was there through it all,” Tchida said. 

The road to recovery in sports is impossible to accurately document. For every moment of glory in an athlete’s career, there is potential suffering around the corner. All the hard work and repetitions put in the gym behind the scenes can come crashing down with a single misstep, and prompt years of devotion towards simply being you again. 

Unfortunately for many student athletes, sustaining a major injury will beat them to the ground. Tchida said it tested her mentality more than anything. “Honestly, I feel like I’m stronger now,” Tchida said. “Now I think my injured [right] knee is stronger than my left. The MRI, rehab, and surgery was all taken care of by Concordia and coach [Gittens] because I was still being recruited, so recovering properly definitely helped.” 

Tchida works on her free throws ahead of the 2021-22 basketball season

“What made it so tough was that I was still studying at Édouard-Montpetit, but I was getting treatment on my knee at

 Concordia. So I was travelling between two schools and home every day.” she added. 

Tchida’s battles with injuries wouldn’t end there. While rehabbing from her ACL injury, she pulled her hamstring which kept her out of action for the entire 2019-20 basketball season. 

She described her experience as a rookie, and not being able to play and contribute to her team, as strenuous. 

“As a first-year, I felt a little bit out of place with the change in school,” Tchida said. “Under normal circumstances, I could play and connect with my teammates on the court but I was still rehabbing from my injuries. Again, coach [Gittens] was amazing to me and helped me find my place and feel comfortable.”

Once March 2020 rolled around and in-person activities were cancelled in response to the global pandemic, the women’s basketball team met online three times a week and continued to train with weights from home. In the summer of that year, government regulations permitted groups to train outside as long as physical distancing rules were respected as much as possible. Tchida said the team was split into groups for guards and forwards and would meet at 6 a.m. to train. In the fall, things shut down once more. 

“During that time, I connected with my teammates a lot and now we are like sisters. So it was really difficult when we had to go back to meeting online. I honestly don’t remember what we did after that, everything passed by like a blur,” Tchida said. 

To help the team cope with ongoing stress, Gittens set up weekly online meetings during the semester that were focused solely on talking amongst each other. 

“We would talk about things that were not related to basketball, just connecting with each other and letting out our emotions. It was an amazing idea by coach [Gittens] and another reason for why she’s so great.” 

When Montreal became a COVID-19 green zone, the team took their outdoor training back to the gymnasium, where they would practice three times a week. With the resumption of school and basketball season around the corner, the team upped their practice regiment to five times a week on top of weight training sessions.

Tchida has been on a long and strenuous road to recovery since early 2019, the last time she participated in a high-level basketball game. There were bumps and bruises along the way, but the Stingers forward going into her third year at Concordia University is finally ready to make her presence on the court known. 

“It’s been so long since I’ve played five-on-five, so I’m honestly a bit nervous,” Tchida said. “But I’m trying to take it one day at a time and focus on the things I can control.”

“I’m confident in the work I put in during practice and my recovery, so I’m hoping to show people I came out of this long break as a more complete basketball player.” 


Photographs by Catherine Reynolds


Kobe Bryant’s legacy will live on

On Jan. 26, the world lost a legend. Kobe Bryant was not just one of the best basketball players of all time. He was an icon, an Oscar winner, a mentor to many, but above all he was a husband and father.

I’ve never met Kobe, nor have I ever seen him play live. To be honest, I’m not much of a basketball guy. But growing up watching SportsCentre before school every morning, there was always something about Kobe Bryant. I, alongside countless others, grew up watching Kobe do his thing.

Kobe’s death shook the entire basketball community around the world. I asked some members of the Stingers basketball community what Kobe Bryant meant to them.


Tenicha Gittens: “Kobe Bryant to me is the definition of that competitive spirit, that intestinal fortitude that people say you’re supposed to have. He was borderline obsessed with the game of basketball and just wanted to be the best. He encompasses everything that it means to be a true athlete. And it wasn’t just about him. He wanted to make his teammates better and just be the ultimate fighter, competitor, warrior, whatever you wanna call it. Mamba mentality. It’s a real thing. Just saying it feels like it gives you power, like you can be Mamba. Basketball-wise—he was just the ultimate competitor. He made it okay to not care about what was said on the court. He would pull your heart out and be the first one to check up on you after. Off the court he was the ultimate advocate as well for women’s sports and basketball. You know, 41 years old—he didn’t have to coach his daughter and be an advocate but he wanted to continue to grow the game on all sides. His legacy is going to be his legacy on the court, but we got cut short of everything he was doing off the court. He was just scratching the surface. He was constantly watching women’s basketball—his daughter Gianna was the reason he started watching basketball again. It’s so easy for a male professional athlete to detach themselves from the women’s game for whatever reason, but it takes a vision to say ‘we need to be a part of this too. We need to be able to help support them and supply them with resources to grow their game.’ He means a whole lot. I have literally never cried like that for someone I have never met.”

Rastko Popovic: “I was on my couch in my living room resting Sunday morning when I found out about the helicopter crash, on Twitter and just saw the TMZ tweet. I had to look twice. My phone started buzzing so I get messages from people and it’s just, it’s unreal. And to be honest, you know, it’s not really if you’re a Kobe Bryant fan at this point. If you know basketball you understand how good he was and how much of a great competitor he was. You just appreciate what he did for the game of basketball and some guys obviously grew up idolizing him and for as long as you know basketball, you respect the champion, the competitive [player] that he was. It really puts things in perspective—I was involved in a big car accident two weeks ago. I missed the game against UQAM, and was pretty badly injured to start. You know, I just appreciated life to that sense where I was just saying I was just happy to be alive. I won’t lie to you, I kissed my two daughters at night and I had some tears. You never know what life’s gonna throw at you certain days and, you think some people are indestructible then something like this happens.”

Olivier Simon: “Mamba mentality—it’s a big thing. It defines Kobe—it’s work ethic in its purest form. And I think we play, we practice every day and it’s huge in our life, not just basketball. It’s the moment until you can put it to work, with your family, and basketball. It’s a way to live your everyday life. So I just try to have fun, and just do the best I can with whatever I’m doing. That’s what Mamba mentality is for me. I was talking to my coaches, like, everyone who knows when we heard about the story. Everyone is talking about his death as if we were personally affected, like as if we knew who he was. It was just hard because, you know, we’ve watched Kobe for a long time. The whole day was just really weird because I just imagined him, his family and his daughters. It was a hard day.”

Dwight Walton: “It’s not what he meant to me. It’s what he was about. His commitment to excellence, his commitment to skill development, his commitment to the process of what it took to win. And whether you were a fan of his or not, you respected that about him because, listen, he—throughout his career, you heard stuff. I won’t pretend to have been around the Lakers when he played. But you heard his teammates, he would alienate himself from his teammates a lot. But it’s because he wanted to win so, so badly, so whether you thought he was a selfish player, or whatever word you wanted to use for him; his commitment to wanting to win so much is what stands out for me. When you mimic, to who I consider the best player of all time, Michael Jordan, that’s the biggest compliment you could give to somebody; he wants to be what Michael Jordan was. The same traits, that commitment to excellence, that commitment to his body, his skill development, all of that stuff. That’s what resonated with me. I’m not gonna sit here and say that I was a huge Kobe Bryant fan, but I respected the process he went through to make sure that he was the best player that he could be. You see all the outpouring of love and affection that he’s been getting since the news broke on Sunday. Everybody knows the great basketball player he was but I think the reason why everybody is so emotional is because of the transition he made to being a great father, a great husband. And a great mentor to not only his kids but to the youth, especially the women, the little girls that wanted to play basketball. He was a major advocate for women’s basketball. His daughter Gianna, by all accounts was on her way to doing big, big and better things basketball-wise. And if you noticed, when Kobe Bryant first retired, he wasn’t a fixture at Laker games. He wasn’t going to a lot of games. But I think his daughter’s love for the game reinvigorated, reenergized him and his love for the game of basketball. He put the same relentless work ethic into becoming a great producer in the media world, a best-selling author, he won an Academy Award for his short film. Some people are saying that he lived a full life in his 41 years, but I think his life was just getting started.”


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Head coach Tenicha Gittens wants players to get stronger

Stingers hope to learn from first experience at nationals in 20 years

A year after finishing the regular season with a 4-12 record, the Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team made it all the way to the U Sports nationals this season. They qualified after losing in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) final against the Laval Rouge et Or, and were eliminated by the McMaster Marauders in the quarter-finals at nationals.

Despite their successful season this year, head coach Tenicha Gittens believes her team needs more depth. “Our bench has been thin all season long, so when we get [to nationals], it does matter,” Gittens said on CJLO Sports on March 11.

Injuries contributed to the short bench this season. Rookie Nelly Owusu was injured before the regular season began, and hasn’t played since, shortening the roster by one. “She was a big part of what we wanted to do,” Gittens said. “She was part of our starting line-up [in preseason games]. I think if she had been healthy throughout the season, she would have been fighting for the rookie of the year.”

Caroline Task (pictured) finished third in league scoring with 15.6 points per game. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Looking ahead to next season, Gittens hopes to increase the team’s roster through recruiting, but doesn’t have any official commitments right now.

“Not having Nelly, this is where it really hurt us, in this postseason,” Gittens added. “To have her in that rotation would have done wonders for us. It would have been a completely different basketball team.”

Leclerc was the third-straight Stinger to win the RSEQ rookie of the year award after Task won in 2017, and Coralie Dumont last year. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Gittens wants her team to get stronger physically for next season, to avoid any future injuries. “Physically, I thought we were weaker than most teams out there, so that’s something we have to get better at,” she said. “We have the talent, we’re just inexperienced. There’s ways we can get around that, and it’s just building our mind to sustain [the season].”

The Stingers benefitted from having the U Sports and RSEQ rookie of the year, Myriam Leclerc. She led the RSEQ in points and assists per game, with 18.8 and 4.6, respectively. Leclerc was also named to the U Sports second all-Canadian team, and the RSEQ’s first all-star team.

Guard Caroline Task was also named to the RSEQ first all-star team, and rookie guard Areej Burgonio made the RSEQ all-rookie team.

“[Leclerc] is just a special talent, and every once in a while, you’re lucky enough to get a talent like that in your program,” Gittens said. “She does everything. She’s a shooting point guard, she’s a passing point guard, and she gets buckets at will […]. She’s a tremendous talent and she’s raised everybody’s level of play.”

However, Gittens wants to see Leclerc get stronger over the summer, just like the rest of the team. “She’s been banged up all season long, but she’s one of those players that’s going to play through [injuries],” Gittens added. “She literally has to be broken to stop playing. We saw that in the final against Laval, when she didn’t play the second half because she physically could not go anymore […]. After that final game at nationals, she told me, ‘Coach, I’m going to be tank this summer,’ so she knows what she needs to work on.”

Burgonio (pictured) averaged 4.1 points in nearly 24 minutes per game this year. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

At the national tournament in Toronto, the Stingers lost to McMaster 86-68 in their first game. The Marauders went onto win the national championship, beating the Rouge et Or in the final. In their consolation game against the Acadia Axewomen, the Stingers had a two-point lead after three quarters, but they ultimately lost 86-74.

“It was a disappointing end to the season,” Gittens said. “But we ended the season at nationals, so even though it seems like losing those two games made the season a wash, we have to remember we got to this point. I knew our biggest challenge going in would be the inexperience of it all, and I knew the other teams going had a taste of nationals.”

The Stingers last played in the national tournament in 1999, and started with the seventh seed as a wild card berth. About this year’s trip to nationals, Gittens said: “We enjoyed the banquet and being treated as one of the top eight teams in Canada, because they have to soak all of that in. We watched basketball and just kind of learned from the other teams that kept moving on.”

If they do get back to nationals next season, they’ll know what to do.

“The experience [at nationals] was definitely the biggest takeaway,” Gittens said. “You try to get them to buy in and believe, and kind of sell them on a dream that they can get there. Now they know the path to take.”

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Concordia-McGill rivalry renewed in playoffs

Women’s basketball, hockey teams faced Martlets in postseason action

The Concordia-McGill rivalry is one of the best in university sports, but it takes on another level when the two schools meet in the playoffs. That was exactly the case this season for both the women’s hockey and basketball teams in their respective Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) semi-finals.

The Stingers only won two of seven games versus McGill in women’s hockey this season. Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

The Stingers women’s hockey team hadn’t beaten McGill in five previous playoff series. Their bad results against their cross-town rivals continued this year, losing in two games. McGill is now 12-0 against Concordia in the playoffs since the Stingers won the 2005 final in three games.

The women’s basketball team has had the same misfortune against the Martlets. Before this year’s playoff match-up, they hadn’t beaten McGill in the playoffs since 2002, losing in 2016 and 2017. This year’s team turned history around and beat the Martlets in the RSEQ semi-final, 62-55, at the Concordia Gym on Feb. 27. They also ended McGill’s seven-year run as provincial champions.

“All of us just wanted to dethrone them, as bad as that sounds,” said third-year guard Caroline Task after the game. “It was time for someone else to take the lead, so I think we went into this knowing this is what we wanted to do.”

It was a tightly-contested game, typical of the Concordia-McGill rivalry in any sport, with a loud and energetic crowd. The Stingers had a 10-point lead in the second quarter, and the Martlets responded well, leading by eight points in the fourth. That’s when the Stingers crowd got behind their team as Concordia scored 19 points in the last five minutes.

“Obviously there are a bit of butterflies in your stomach when you’re down with the time going down,” Task said. “Not for a second I didn’t think we wouldn’t pick it up.”

The rivalry takes on a whole new level each year at the Corey Cup. Photo by Hannah Ewen.
Missed opportunity

On the men’s side of basketball and hockey, there were no Concordia-McGill playoff meetings this year. McGill’s men’s basketball team lost in their semi-final, which would have set up a final against Concordia. In hockey, the Stingers met the Queen’s Gaels in the first round of the playoffs, but should have played McGill.

According to U Sports hockey insider Victor Findlay, the Gaels dressed an ineligible player in their final game of the season. The Ontario University Athletics Association only sanctioned them after their series against Concordia started, deducting them a point. Originally, the Gaels finished third, and McGill in fourth, but because of the loss of points, McGill jumped into the third seed. They would have played the sixth-placed Stingers if the issue had been dealt with earlier.

This could have set up a fantastic series between the schools. “It’s fun to play,” said rookie defenceman Bradley Lalonde after the Corey Cup on Feb. 2. “[The Ed Meagher arena] is kind of smaller, so when you get a lot of people, there’s a lot of noise.”

Stingers captain Philippe Hudon has seen it all from the rivalry during his five years at Concordia. “It’s an old rivalry, and these kind of games speak for themselves,” he said after the Corey Cup. “There should be more exposure to this kind of game, it’s fun hockey and the rivalry is tremendous.”

Fans will get another taste of the Concordia-McGill rivalry when the football season kicks off in September.

With files from Simon Prud’homme. Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.


Stingers end Martlets title run in semi-final win

Concordia scores 19 points in final five minutes to move onto to RSEQ final

The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team ended the McGill Martlets title run in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) semi-final. They won 62-55 at the Concordia Gym Wednesday night, ending McGill’s seven-year run as champions.

The Stingers missed the playoffs last year with a 4-12 record, and get to play in the final this year. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

After domination in the first quarter that gave the Stingers a 19-9 lead, they saw the Martlets coming back in the second quarter. The score was 30-29 for Concordia at halftime, and the Martlets took the lead in the third quarter. Concordia trailed behind and were losing by eight with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Stingers went on a 19-4 run to close out the game and get the win.

“I thought they showed a lot of character,” said head coach Tenicha Gittens, who was happy with her team’s performance. “When you are down seven points, it’s easy to just get down but we came back […]. You can get tired but you won’t be playing tomorrow. You can be tired next month.”

Gittens added that defence kept them in the game in the second half, allowing only 26 points. “Offensively, [the shots] were not falling,” Gittens said. “Our girls did a good job adjusting during the fourth quarter.

A team filled with rookies, this was the first playoff experience for most of them. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.

Gittens also saw leadership from guards Caroline Task and forward Coralie Dumont when it mattered. Dumont played 39 of 40 minutes, collecting nine rebounds and scoring eight points. Rookie guard Myriam Leclerc also played 39 minutes, and had the most points in the game with 28.

“We never gave up,” Task said. “We had ups and downs, everybody played their part in the game.”

The Stingers will play the Université de Laval Rouge et Or on Saturday in Quebec City in the RSEQ final. The 15-1 Rouge et Or beat Concordia all four times this season, but only won by two points in their last meeting on Feb. 21.

“They won it last time but we’ll win it when it matters,” Task said about the final. “I am really excited. We played them last week and we fell short by two points and that means nothing. We know what we need to do to win the next game.”

The Stingers return to the final after losing to McGill in 2017. Laval will be looking to avenge their loss at last year’s finals, also against the Martlets.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Stingers split doubleheader on senior’s night against McGill

Women take sole possession of second while men remain in first place

The Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team were defeated 70-59 by the McGill Redmen, while the women’s team defeated the Martlets 63-51 Thursday night at the Concordia Gym. It was also senior’s night for the graduating Stingers on both teams.

Women’s Game

McGill built an early lead in the first quarter when Concordia struggled offensively to start the game. However, Stingers guard Caroline Task registered nine points in the quarter to keep her team in the game.

The Stingers then took control when their defence stood out and helped bring their game to another level. The team dominated from the paint and the perimeter, while forcing many turnovers and shot clock violations from McGill.

Task continued to dominate in the second quarter, even hitting the 1000-point mark in her career. Her performance helped the Stingers finish the first half ahead, 31-27.

Things continued to work well for the Stingers in the third quarter. The team converted a lot of three-point shots and capitalized on offensive rebounds. The Martlets scored less than 10 points for a second straight quarter, allowing the Stingers to lead by 19 points approaching the last quarter of the game.

While the Stingers entered the fourth quarter with a 55-36 lead, poor shot selection and turnovers gave Mcgill energy. The visitors dominated a good part of the last 15 minutes of action and managed to get back in the game. However, the lead established by the Stingers earlier was too difficult to overcome.

With the win, the Stingers improve to 9-5 this season. Task finished the game with 28 points, a game-high.

Before the game, the Stingers honoured graduating students Elise Roy, Aurélie d’Anjou Drouin, and Ladonna Lamonth with framed jerseys.

The men will need to win one of their final two games to guarantee first place. Photo by Gabe Chevalier.
Men’s Game

Both teams battled for the majority of the first quarter. Stingers guard Ricardo Monge helped his team close the gap early in the game, but McGill still finished the first quarter ahead, 18-17.

Monge continued to produce offensively in the second quarter. His successful three-point shots in the first half allowed the Stingers to stay in the game and even take a brief lead in the second quarter. McGill replied and headed to the locker room ahead 29-28 at the intermission.

The third quarter was McGill’s affair. The visitors put the Stingers in a difficult situation in the third quarter, and entered the fourth with a seven-point lead. However, the Singers continued to fight and cut the deficit with back-to-back successful three-point shots from Sami Ghandour and Adrian Armstrong.

McGill came back to extend their lead with less than two minutes left. The Stingers continued to show resilience at the end of the game, as the team created scoring opportunities and received free throws.

Despite the loss, the Stingers remain first in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec ranking with a record of 10-4.

Both teams play the Bishop’s University Gaiters on Feb. 16 at the Mitchell Gym.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Stingers split tightly-contested doubleheader with UQAM

Men’s team extends league-best record while women fall for third-straight game

The Concordia Stingers basketball teams split a pair of games against the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins Thursday night at the Concordia Gym. It was the first of two doubleheaders between the schools this weekend.

Men’s game

The Stingers won the game 70-67, but it was a game filled with inconsistency. “I was very disappointed with how we executed on both ends, offensively and defensively,” said Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic.

The Stingers started the game strong, collecting rebounds and drawing fouls, and got up to a quick 7-2 lead within the first three minutes. They soon found themselves down 12-7 after the Citadins put together a 10-0 run to pull ahead, but the Stingers ended the quarter up 15-14.

Their lead fell apart very quickly as the Stingers found themselves down 30-20 just over halfway through the second quarter. Popovic called a timeout to rejuvenate his guys. “I just told them they will beat us if we play this way, and they responded well,” Popovic said.

After the timeout, the Stingers went on a 12-2 run and went into halftime tied at 32. The third quarter saw the Stingers fall behind 51-44 six minutes in. However, they closed the period by cutting the Citadins lead down to 55-51.

The fourth quarter was the team’s best, which saw Stingers guard Ricardo Monge score six points to grab a 61-58 lead. He finished the game with 11 points, three assists, and three steals.

The Citadins took back the lead with three minutes remaining, but the Stingers used their home-court advantage to dominate the last minutes and win.

Popovic said the Stingers reduced their turnovers in the second half, from 13 to three, which helped them win.

Guard Caroline Task (#7) was limited to six points in the loss. Photo by Victoria Lewin.
Women’s game

The Stingers entered the game Thursday night looking to snap their two-game losing streak. While the game was close, the Stingers lost to the Citadins, 68-63.

The first quarter saw the Stingers and Citadins trade chances. However the Citadins, who came into the game with a 1-8 record, had a 19-18 lead after the opening quarter.

The second quarter was led by Stingers star guard Myriam Leclerc, who helped her team grab a 33-30 lead at the half. Leclerc led all scorers with 17 points after two quarters, and finished the game with 29 points.

The Stingers’s momentum started to slip away in the third quarter. The Citadins’ centre Inga Aleksaite dominated the early part of the quarter on both ends of the floor. Despite this, the Stingers were able to keep the game close by putting up a 6-0 run to end the quarter, but were still down, at 51-49.

Concordia tied the game at 61 with two minutes left in the fourth after some good defence and rebounding. However, the game slipped away from the Stingers, as the Citadins scored seven points in the final minutes, and Concordia only scored two.

“UQAM came in hungrier than us,” said head coach Tenicha Gittens. “They came in and took it from us.”

The men’s team improved to 10-2 on the year while the women dropped to 7-5. They each play the Citadins today at UQAM, with the women tipping off at 2 p.m.

Main photo by Gabe Chevalier.


Only the men’s basketball team able to get win against Laval

Women lose back-to-back games against #1 seed Rouge et Or

The Concordia Stingers basketball teams split a doubleheader against the Laval Rouge et Or at home on Jan. 26. The men’s team won 90-76 while the women’s team lost 81-63.

Men’s game

The men’s team entered the game with high motivation after suffering a tough loss earlier in the week against Laval. The Stingers led by 14 points in the third quarter, but the Rouge et Or came back to win.

The Stingers looked to continue their winning streak at home and extend their conference-leading 8-2 record. Laval and Concordia began the game with a back-and-forth struggle, as both teams traded baskets throughout the first half.

Despite scoring 23 points in each the first and second quarter, Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic said his team could have played much better. “I thought we didn’t play well at all in the first half,” Popovic said.

These high expectations for his team is one of the many factors that has led to the winning record for the Stingers this season. The Stingers methodically followed their game plan in the second half. The ball movement from the starters to the reserves is what allowed the Stingers to slowly wear down their opponent as they forced 14 turnovers, which led to 16 points scored all game.

In contrast, Concordia only had seven giveaways the entire game. By the end of the third quarter, the Stingers held their largest lead of the game with seven points and in the fourth, their consistency on both ends was too much for Laval.

One of the game’s brightest stars was forward Aleks Simeunovic. After suffering a knee injury a year ago, he returned with the team this season and made an instant contribution. His two three-pointers came in the second half, one of which was at the end of the third quarter, giving the Stingers a huge momentum boost.

Simeunovic attributes his performance to the trust his team had in him during his recovery and return to the court. “[It] feels really good to be back out there again and playing,” he said. “My teammates have my back and the biggest thing is that they believe in me. They trusted me, so when I get on the court, it’s just easy to do my thing.”

The camaraderie on this team has been apparent from the beginning of the season. Both the coaches and players understand the importance of that bond as the playoffs approach.

“We keep stressing with our guys everyday in practice that we don’t care who shoots–we want good shots and it showed tonight,” Popovic said. With five games remaining in the regular season, the Stingers look forward to continuing their success.

Women’s game

The Rouge et Or remained undefeated all season, entering the game with an 8-0 record, while the Stingers’s was 7-3. With McGill in hot pursuit of the second seed in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) behind Concordia, this game held extreme significance for the Stingers.

The game began with the Rouge et Or establishing their dominance in the paint. They took advantage of their taller centres and forwards to force switches with screens and dominate in front of the basket.

The Stingers struggled in the first quarter with turnovers and rebounds, allowing Laval to jump to an early 24-11 lead. The Stingers came back strong in the second, rallying behind Myriam Leclerc who scored a game-high 17 first-half points.

Midway through the second quarter, the Stingers had put together a 10-4 run by using their quickness to get steals. Stingers guard Elise Roy fought hard at both ends, supplying the kind of energy the Stingers needed to claw their way back into the game.

With the lead cut to seven in the second quarter, Laval responded with a 14-7 run of their own, ending the half with a 48-24 lead. The second half began the way the game started, with Laval using their good ball movement, keeping the Stingers guessing. Their good strategies began to open up easy opportunities from the outside, as Laval made all four of the three-point shots they took in the second half.

By the end of the third, Laval held a 19-point lead. The fourth quarter saw what the Stingers could bring as they opened with a quick 8-0 run, cutting the lead to 11 points. The Stingers forced 17 turnovers in the game and continued to play tough defence down the stretch. Although Concordia scored most of their points in the fourth quarter, Laval was able to match their opponents with 20 points in the quarter.

Despite the tough loss, the Stingers remain in second place in the conference.

Both the men and women play a home-and-home series against the Université de Québec à Montréal Citadins next weekend.

Main photo by Clare Redman.

Exit mobile version