Basketball Sports

Serena Tchida wins perseverance award through long-time passion for basketball

Women’s basketball star picked for RSEQ All-Star team, wins U SPORTS award.

Stingers star Serena Tchida dominated the 2023-24 basketball season, finishing with the most overall points scored and the second-highest scoring average in the league at 15.1 points per game in the RSEQ. The forward finished with the third-highest field goal percentage, and fourth place in rebounding, averaging 7.2 rebounds per game. She was selected for the RSEQ All-Star Team, along with teammates Areej Burgonio and Rowena Blais.

She performed at this level in her first year back from a season ending tear in her Achilles tendon, which she suffered in the second half of the 2022-23 season, away against ULaval’s Rouge et Or. For this impressive feat, Tchida won the Tracy MacLeod award for determination, perseverance, and an unwavering spirit while overcoming adversity.

“The first time I heard of this award was in my first year. Myriam Leclerc won the award, so I had an example of what you need to do,” Tchida said. 

Coincidentally, Leclerc won U SPORTS Rookie of the Year in 2019, and Tchida was selected for the RSEQ all-rookie team in 2021. “It was one of my goals to get that award,” she said. “I tried to focus on my work, and gave all my worries and stress to God.”

Tchida started playing basketball in her fourth year of high school. Growing up in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, she attended Saint-Luc High School, where she tried out for the school team with her friend. Her friend didn’t make the team, but Tchida did. She didn’t originally have a passion for basketball, but gradually discovered her talent along with a sense of family in her teammates, and support from her coaches which she didn’t have at home. 

One day, she was at Pagé Basketball with her friends for a shoot-around. A coach who was casually watching was impressed with her talent, and suggested that she try out for CEGEP Édouard-Montpetit. Which is what she did, and succeeded yet again. Although, for her, basketball was still only a pastime, and not pursuable in the future. 

Before her Achilles tear last season, Tchida suffered another major basketball injury in 2019, while she was playing for Édouard-Montpetit. She was anxious, as she was being scouted for the first time in her life. Coach Tenicha Gittens from Concordia University was visiting.

For the first time, she felt important, wanted, and looked forward to possibly being coached by a Black woman. Her whole career thus far, she had been coached by men. During the game, Tchida tore half of her ACL amid a scuffle on the hardwood. She shot right back up, and pushed to stay in the game. Unfortunately, her team’s athletic therapist refused. On the bright side, Gittens was convinced.

“That’s when my passion started,” Tchida said. “I saw that I was wanted by someone. [Gittens] took care of me since day one. I have a really good relationship with her… It was a dark time for me, but she didn’t let me quit, she didn’t let me go.” 

Fast forward to January 2023, Tchida tore her Achilles tendon in what seemed to be an unprompted, unexplainable manner. The small-forward was frustrated, as she had caught momentum after her impressive rookie season, where she averaged 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. 

“[Gittens] really helped me through the injury,” the All-Star forward explained. “She visited me at the hospital, she brought me to the hospital by car in Québec. She made sure that everything was on the table for me so I could just eat it. Her and my assistant coach, Shawn Browne, I’m super grateful for them because they made it so easy for me to get better. They made a good investment in me, and I was able to return it.”

Tchida said the secret to her speedy recovery was perseverance, all while staying calm and being in the present. “I didn’t put pressure on [myself],” Tchida said. “I was just going day by day and giving my all everyday. I was making sure that I gave the effort that I needed to, doing my exercise, eating good, being there for the girls, and putting 100 per cent effort.”

The leader has high expectations for her upcoming final season, and is grateful for every member of the Stingers. “I would love for us to go to nationals and play during nationals and live the experience that I lived when I went to get my award,” she said. “I want to win the championship for my coach and for my teammates and for everybody that believes in me.” 

Serena Tchida hopes to play at the professional level, and believes she will with help from her coaches.

Basketball Hockey Sports

The new year boasts riveting home openers for the Stingers

Stingers women’s hockey stays undefeated, while the men’s and women’s basketball teams show grit against rivals at home in the new year.

The Concordia Stingers’ women’s hockey team picked up where they left off in 2023, skating to a decisive 7-0 victory over the Carleton Ravens. Both women’s and men’s basketball teams faced McGill on Thursday night, and the gym was packed for an electric night. Both Stingers squads showed tremendous grit, as matchups against McGill always spark extra emotion.

Coming into the winter break with a perfect 13-0-0 record, the Stingers have been at the top of the USports women’s hockey rankings since Nov. 7. While the team’s record speaks for itself, the fashion in which the Stingers are winning is simply remarkable.

It is not everyday that a team has six different players scoring at a point-per-game pace. But with Concordia’s Émilie Lussier, Jessymaude Drapeau, Émilie Lavoie, Chloé Gendreau, Emmy Fecteau, and Léonie Philbert, we’re witnessing this rarity. Moreover, goaltenders Arianne Leblanc and Jordyn Verbeek are ranked in the top five for goals-against average in the USports national rankings. The Stingers offensive dominance was put on display yet again when they faced off against Carleton on Jan. 6.

Right off the opening faceoff, the Stingers jumped in front of their opponents. Forwards Chloé Gendreau and Jessymaude Drapeau both scored power-play goals in the first three minutes of the game, giving the Stingers a 2-0 cushion early.

Shutdown defence and a consistent forecheck from the Stingers continued through the second period. Forwards Émilie Lavoie, Rosalie Parent, and Rosalie Bégin-Cyr all added goals of their own in the middle frame, extending the Stingers lead to 5-0.

In the final 20 minutes, Gendreau and forward Caroline Moquin-Joubert added one more goal each, while goaltender Jordyn Verbeek secured a shutout and her eighth win of the season. The Stingers’ 7-0 victory moved them to a 14-0-0 record, which was followed by a 5-0 win against the Montréal Carabins, as well as a 5-1 win against the McGill Martlets. They will look to stick to their winning ways when they faceoff at the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Jan. 19.

Concordia Stingers women’s and men’s basketball teams faced McGill on Thursday, and the gym was packed for an electric night. Both teams showed tremendous grit, as matchups against McGill always spark extra emotion.

The women’s basketball team started off hot in the first quarter. As the Martlets showed consistent offensive pressure, the Stingers displayed tough defence. Stingers forward Gretta-Olivia Ineza executed a steal and three defensive rebounds throughout her 34 minutes of gametime. However, forcing McGill to commit a shot clock violation and a few more close-calls wasn’t enough—the Stinger’s largest lead of the game was only by six points towards the end of the first quarter. At the same time, the Stingers put up their best scoring quarter of the game, putting up 20 points.

The two top scorers of the game played on the away side, as centre Kristy Awikeh and point guard Daniella Mbengo put up 21 and 17 points, respectively. Both showed incredible stamina to find the play, regardless of how much pressure was applied. Mbengo, who played for 30 minutes, recorded six assists, more than anyone else on the court, making it look easy to find the right decisions in tough situations. She also made all five of her free throws. 

It was too little too late for the Stingers, as the Martlets were up by 15 points towards the end of the third quarter, and started the last quarter ahead by 11. It seemed as though star point guard Areej Burgonio’s nasty fadeaway-and-one three-pointer reignited the flame for the home team in the last seconds of the third quarter. The crowd erupted into a cacophony as she held up three fingers with both her hands from the ground. Despite exuberant and desperate efforts in the last 12 minutes of the game, it seemed as though Burgonio’s efforts weren’t enough. The Stingers lost 74-66.

“[McGill] played with a lot more heart, a lot more grit,” said Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens. “The biggest thing for me was on the rebounds. [McGill had] 25 rebounds and we got 16. You’re not going to win a game like that. Pretty much everything else is even on the stat sheet.” Despite the eventual loss, Gittens seemed satisfied with the reduction of caused turnovers compared to before the break.

“We’re trying to get to the championship game and win it,” the head coach concluded. “So you can’t just sit in your loss. This can break us, or it can make us better. And we’re going to make it make us better.”

The Stingers then lost to the Martlets 68-50 on Saturday. Concordia sits in third place out of five in the RSEQ, with a 4-4 record.

The men’s game was a real nail-biter as the teams traded even blows throughout the 48-minute period. In fact, the two teams alternated in out-scoring each other for each quarter, and they both layed down a hefty 29 points in the last, which sounds like an NBA stat.

The Stingers showed incredible team depth, as five of the seven bench players dropped an accumulative 28 points. This included new recruit Gabriel Bourdages, who recorded five rebounds, a steal, a block, and seven points within nine minutes of his debut. “I thought he showed some really good minutes in the first half,” said head coach Rastko Popović after the game. “He’s gonna get better as we get to practise.”

On the other hand, while the McGill Redbirds didn’t display much  depth, they had a great sixth man, power forward Joshua Soifer. The 4-man recorded 12 points, two assists, two rebounds and a steal in 15 minutes of playing time.

Amongst the players on the Concordia team, the guards shined the brightest. Alec Phaneuf and Sami Jahan together stole the show combining for 36 points, seven assists, eight rebounds and making all of their 11 free throws. “I thought [Phaneuf] was doing a great job in the third quarter when he built the nine-point lead,” said coach Popović.“Then we had one possession where we didn’t execute and then our point guards really made a lot of huge plays down the stretch.” 

Junior Mercy came off the bench and had a few highlight plays in the first half, including a nasty steal for a coast-to-coast and one layup, as well as a huge block and assist play to Bourdages.

Yet another third-quarter highlight occurred when centre Bradley Louidon pulled a reverse slam dunk on the towering opposing star centre Saransh Padhy, and caused an eruption from the crowd, as well as heated arguments from both benches. Despite many fouls and a missed call on a McGill flop, the Stingers pulled an 89-86 win for their first game of 2024. 

“I think our defence has to be more consistent,” Popović said. “That’s way too many points we gave up today, so you know we’ve got to clean up our defence and a little bit better execution offensively and I think we should be okay. It’s gonna be a hard game on the road, so we’ve got to get ready.”

The Stingers then beat the Redbirds 71-61 on Saturday. Concordia currently sits in second place in the RSEQ with a 6-2 record, just under UQÀM. 


Areej Burgonio: A leader by example

The Stingers women’s basketball guard discusses stepping up as a leader this basketball season

There is a world of difference between the rookie Areej Burgonio was in 2018 and the veteran star she became this past season.

Going into the 2022-23 season, Stingers guard Burgonio was one of two senior players in a young team. It was also the first time in her four-year career with the Stingers that she had to take on a leadership role. 

“I had such great strong role models, and I was put in the position where I have to be that strong role model now,” said Burgonio.

It was a challenging adjustment at first for the Stingers playmaker who was previously known to keep more to herself.

“Being patient, being able to lead on and off the court, mentoring my rookies until they can be better basketball players while also keeping in mind that I have to perform as a point guard, it was tough,” she said. “But I’m glad I had that opportunity.”

Burgonio started playing basketball when she was 12 years old. Before coming to Concordia, she played for Crestwood Preparatory School, a Toronto high school with a well-established basketball program.

She went on to compete in a tournament in New York with her team from Crestwood, where she met Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens for the first time.

“Out of all the places, coach [Gittens] was there,” recalled Burgonio. “At first, given the location, I didn’t expect her to introduce herself from a Montreal university. Not going to lie, I [had] never heard of Concordia up until I met her.”

Head coach Tenicha Gittens and Burgonio on Senior Day. Evan Buhler/ Concordia Athletics

For Gittens, it was Burgonio’s attitude on the court that stood out to her.

“She [was] one of the smallest players on the court, but there was just something about her grit,” said Gittens. “I love the way she didn’t back down.”

Burgonio stands at five-feet tall, but Gittens didn’t think that mattered.

“She was one of the biggest players in terms of heart, aggressiveness and competitiveness,” she added. “That’s something I knew we needed on our team.”

The two stayed in contact, and when Burgonio eventually enrolled in sociology at Concordia,  she was invited to join the women’s basketball team after being scouted by the coaching staff while playing in Toronto.

As a 17-year-old rookie, Burgonio was surrounded by a very mature and strong team.

“I had to grow up fast,” Burgonio said. “When you’re surrounded by so many people like Caroline Task and Myriam Leclerc, you conform to their standards, which is excellence and nothing less.”

That year, Myriam Leclerc was a rookie guard like Burgonio, and Caroline Task was a third-year guard.

Burgonio went on to be named to the RSEQ All-Rookie team. Four years later, she was named to the RSEQ’s First Team All-Star and finished the season as the second-best scorer in the RSEQ.

Burgonio’s teammates pointed out that, throughout her career, the star player matured into a better and smarter athlete with extensive knowledge of plays and a great vision of the court. She also became more outspoken, especially this season.

“She had to be one of our top scorers, had to be one of our leaders defensively and be one of our facilitators as well,” said Gittens. “There is no player that I’ve coached at Concordia that has had more responsibility put on their shoulders and has stepped up to it.”

Serena Tchida, the team’s captain and a third-year forward, said that Burgonio abruptly went from being the sixth player to playing 40 minutes per game.

“This year, we didn’t have anyone on top of us to rely on so we had to take on leadership ourselves,” said Tchida. “She really embraced her role, especially when I injured myself and I wasn’t there to help her anymore.”

For the rookies of the team, having a veteran like Burgonio made all the difference.

“She wants to set an example for us,” said rookie forward Fabiola Lamour. “She takes the time to explain plays and she makes sure everyone is on the same page.”

Lamour recalled Burgonio often saying “my money’s on us,” her way of showing her team she believed in them. She also noted that Burgonio had made her feel welcomed on the team from the get-go.

Although Burgonio is a senior, she still has one year of eligibility left with the Stingers. She noted that, given she is only 22, she isn’t ready to walk away just yet.

“I do have goals, for example, going on the national team from the Philippines and playing professionally,” she said. “But at the same time I know that this chapter isn’t fully over if I still have that one year.”


How is Stingers’ basketball doing so far?

Both Stingers basketball teams are facing strong competitions this year

As the holiday break approaches, the first half of the season has proven challenging for Concordia’s women’s and men’s basketball teams.

The women’s basketball team currently ranks fourth out of the five teams in the RSEQ, just ahead of crosstown rivals McGill. Although the start of the season has been rough, the Stingers are confident that they are improving with every game.

“We’ve gotten better across the board, and at some point the results will show in the win column,” said women’s head coach Tenicha Gittens. “Right now, we’re picking up Ls, but we still see we’re getting better.”

Gittens said that the elements they practice still have a hard time translating over to the game. They’ve especially been working on their defence, but are still lacking the “toughness, grit, and discipline” needed to win games.

The women’s basketball team is working with a lot of rookies this year. The Stingers experienced a similar situation back in 2018-19. Although a young team had once been advantageous back then, it is now currently plaguing them.

“It’s taking a little bit more time for them to get it,” said Gittens. “With a young team, it takes some time to figure it out and to trust themselves, their teammates, and the coaches.”

But Gittens also sees improvement in the team’s morale. “It was down, but it’s better and steadily climbing.” she said.“Right now, the morale is good but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to equate to a W. For us, it’s a good thing that we’re feeling good.”

Although players like forward Serena Tchida and guard Areej Burgonio have been scoring some desperately needed points for their team, Gittens wants to make sure everybody is putting in the effort so they can be as unified as possible.

Men’s basketball is shining bright

Concordia Stingers’ guard Sami Jahan in a game this season. KYRAN THICKE/ Concordia Athletics

The men’s basketball team on the other hand, has done great so far starting the season with a five-game winning streak presenting a close-to-perfect track record leading on top in the RSEQ. However, gaining the edge over the four other teams hasn’t been easy.

“Every game in our league is very hard, so a lot of credit goes to our guys for finding ways to win games,” said men’s head coach Rastko Popovic.

The five victories recorded by the Stingers have been challenging. Their latest three wins finished in close calls including a 75-74 win against Bishop’s, 83-79 against Laval and 58-57 against McGill.

According to Popovic, the team’s ability to turn up the defence in the second half of the game has helped them secure wins against Bishop’s and Laval. To Popovic, defence is one of his team’s greatest strengths.

“You can’t guarantee that you’re going to make shots, but what you can guarantee is having a great defensive effort every time you play,” Popovic said. “We have a very detailed defensive system that we spend a lot of time working on. It’s hard for younger players to grasp, but some of our guys have done a great job.”

The men’s basketball team is also working with a young squad this year, only having three players who are in their third year or higher. However, the preseason games have helped develop and flourish team chemistry.

“I purposely scheduled these games because I want our players to play against the best competition,” Popovic said. “Even though results weren’t great, it’s not all about wins and losses in preseason, it’s all about getting better. It definitely prepared us for league play.”

Going into the break, Popovic knows that his players aren’t getting too cocky about their success.“I remind them every day that we haven’t won anything or accomplished anything,” he said. “While it’s nice to win some of these games, it’s not like we won a championship or a playoff game.”

Unfortunately, after the Stingers’ game against UQAM on Nov. 26, their five-game winning streak came to an end after an 83-59 loss. The Stingers will be back at home on Jan. 14.


Concordia Stingers vs. Bishop’s Gaiters: women’s 82-56 loss, men’s 74-61 victory in basketball

Stingers’ forward Serena Tchida and guard Olivier Koumassou-Bernier were their team’s top scorers during last week’s home openers

On Nov. 10, the Stingers’ women’s and men’s basketball teams played their home openers in front of a nearly sold-out crowd against the Bishop’s Gaiters at the Concordia Gym.

The women’s team played first. Unable to match the Gaiters’ aggressiveness on the court, they were outscored in every quarter and ended with an 82-56 loss.

Head coach Tenicha Gittens said that her team’s loss was mostly due to their lack of toughness on the court. She also noted the Gaiters’ superiority in rebounds, as they had 45 rebounds compared to the Stingers’ 28.

“They’ve got 21 offensive rebounds and they converted on those second-chance opportunities,” said Gittens. “If you look back on our last game against UQAM, it’s the same thing: we lack toughness right now. Rebounding is a mindset, and you have to have grit, you have got to be tough, and you have to want it more than the other person.”

Stingers’ guard Areej Burgonio had the most assists on the team, with seven. Her teammate, Stingers’ forward Serena Tchida came out as her team’s top scorer with 18 points and led with 15 rebounds getting a double-double. She recorded no assists in the game.  

“That’s what Serena can do,” said Gittens. “I knew that in the summertime, I knew that last year. Serena right now is battling fatigue and there are moments when she gets really tired. I can understand and not understand at the same time, but 18 points is a regular day at the office for Serena.”

“I can’t be the only scorer and Areej can’t be the only passer,” said Tchida who noted the same weaknesses in her team as the coach. “We have to work on team bonding because now we are lacking effort and rebounding is all about effort.”

Concordia Stingers’ men’s basketball vs. Bishop’s Gaiters on Nov. 10, 2022. ALICE MARTIN/ The Concordian

After the women’s game, the men’s team quickly took the court. Until the very last quarter, the game was tight and both teams scored one after the other.

In the first quarter, the Gaiters had the upper hand with 12 points as opposed to the Stingers’ nine. Concordia caught up in the second quarter with 19 more points, while the Gaiters scored 15. The third quarter was tied with 22 more points scored, and the fourth quarter saw the Stingers gain ground over the Gaiters with a final score of 74-61.

“I don’t think we played well for the first three quarters,” said Stingers’ head coach Rastko Popovic. “We played more of their style of game than I would’ve liked. We weren’t under control, but the fourth quarter stood out to us on the offensive end because we made the right play every time, and defensively, the guys really stepped up.”

Stingers’ guard Olivier Koumassou-Bernier, who was named player of the game, scored 20 points total, 18 of which came from six three-pointers — a career-high for him.

“Olivier is such a hard worker,” emphasized Popovic. “He’s always in the gym working on his three-point shooting. I’m very proud of him tonight and I know how much work he puts in. I tell the guys all the time, if you put in the work, the results will follow.”

“We shoot well as a team,” added Koumassou-Bernier. “We had a lot of adjustments to do in terms of defence in the fourth period, but I’m pretty happy about the win. I’m happy about my own performance, but never satisfied.”

Popovic also mentioned that the win felt especially good as it was the home opener, and the stands were full of Stingers’ fans who cheered them on.

He also remains confident about his team’s abilities to win and progress in the future, but he is also careful about the team not getting too cocky.

“Yes, we are 2-0 right now, but I don’t want my guys to feel like we won a championship,” he said.

The team is now 3-0 after a 58-57 win against the McGill Redbirds on Sunday, Nov. 12.


Stingers 89, Martlets 52: Concordia dominates in women’s basketball season opener

Stingers start 2021⁠–22 RSEQ regular season on the right foot on the road against the Martlets

Stingers veterans helped lead the team to victory for their first regular season game in over 600 days. In preparation for the game, Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens said she hoped to harness the excitement and turn it into good energy for a competitive and successful game. Concordia did just that, coming out ready to battle against the younger Martlets team. 

The Stingers took the lead almost immediately. McGill head coach Rikki Bowles called a timeout early in the first quarter in an attempt to stop the momentum. However, the Stingers remained strong, building their lead throughout the rest of the game. 

Caroline Task, a fifth-year guard, said winning the first game is “definitely a confidence booster” for the rest of the season. She attributed the successful start to strong defence and good team chemistry. 

“We feed a lot on our defence. And we were there, we were present defensively,” Task said. 

After an injury to Areej Burgonio’s left knee in the third quarter, Concordia’s command started to waver, and their lead began to shrink. Luckily, Burgonio was able to get her knee checked and re-taped, and quickly returned to the game to help her team get back on track. Stingers veteran Task wasn’t worried about the slowdown. 

“Obviously we had some lapses like any game, but we’re a team, we have really good chemistry off the court. And I think that really translates on the court,” Task said. 

The lapses are something Task believes the team will need to limit in their upcoming home opener against an experienced Bishops team. That game is set to start next week on Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. 

With the first win of the 2021–22 RSEQ regular season already secured by the Stingers, it looks to be an exciting season. Gittens said she has the same goal as all the other teams in the conference, to be champions. Her strategy is to take things one day at a time and build the team “brick by brick.”

“It starts in the preseason at summertime. It’s in the weight room. It’s in practice. It’s in those extra shots you get up at night. Every part of that journey is a brick that you want to lay to build that wall, to get us to our ultimate goal — to be champions,” Gittens said.


Photograph by Laurent Beausoleil


A challenging season for Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team

It’s been a tough season for the Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team.

After appearing in the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) final in 2018-19, as well as going to Nationals, the team finished 2019-20 last place with a 4-12 record.

The Stingers faced adversity all season long. The team dealt with many injuries, which made things complicated for head coach Tenicha Gittens. Despite disappointing results, Gittens said she’s proud of the way her team competed this season.

“I don’t think I had one player who was 100 per cent healthy [this season],” Gittens said. “They still went out there and battled. I always want more of them, so as a coach you’re never really satisfied. Yet, overall, they showed a lot of [effort and character]. It would have been easy, and not just for the last games of the season but many, to give up.”

Photo by Laurence Brisson Dubreuil

Even during preseason tournaments and exhibition games, the Stingers had some of their starting players injured. Teams usually take advantage of preseason games to build chemistry between their players, and work on their system to make the last adjustments before the regular season.

However, the Stingers could barely do so because of injuries that occured to some key players before the start of the 2019-20 RSEQ season. The team showed chemistry towards the end of the season, but it was too late for a playoff push. Gittens said the chemistry was still a good point to retain from this year.

I think it started to get better,” Gittens said. “At the beginning of the season we were [dealing with injuries and had rookies]. Nelly Owusu and Myriam Leclerc were still out at that point. Sometimes, establishing a chemistry takes a little bit longer than you’d like. I think if we played like in this last game, but in January, it would have been a much different outcome. It just took us too long.”

Gittens said she talked with her players about not waiting for things to happen, and taking advantage of what you can control. She explained that building chemistry, and having success isn’t just always about things happening on the court.

“We went to Nationals and competed for the RSEQ championship last year, so of course we looked for the same kind of success,” Gittens said. “We have the understanding that we had no depth. We had players who were expected to join our program and ended up not coming. We just dealt with a lot. People don’t see that, as they see us in games or in the gym, but there’s much more than that. It’s an unfortunate thing, and it happens sometimes. We will be championship contenders again, and that’s the focus. You have to take it one day at a time sometimes.”

Photo by Alex Hutchins

Rookie point-guard Owusu also had a challenging season, coming back from her second ACL injury and a shoulder injury. Owusu played for Dawson College in division 1 of the RSEQ before joining the Stingers. She was one of the best players in division 1, especially defensively where she finished the 2017-18 season first in steals.

Gittens said the coaching staff knew what they were adding to the team when recruiting Owusu, but it’s still hard to describe her rookie season because just like other teammates, she wasn’t healthy from start to finish.

“Owusu played at like 65 per cent, and still doesn’t have feeling in her arm because of her shoulder,” Gittens said. “She’s incredibly hard on herself. She’s a great example for the other players. We didn’t really have [a healthy] Owusu this season. The focus now is just to have her back healthy. We’re going to take time off, and rehabilitate those injuries we have in the group for next year.”

Gittens described the season as mentally tough, including for herself. She said it’s been hard to try figuring out how to manage the team with all the injuries.

“I expect things of my players, but not anything I’m not going to expect out of myself first,” Gittens said. “There were so many things we wanted to do, but unfortunately couldn’t because we had six or perhaps seven depth players [in the lineup]. It’s part of the sport and the job, and I have to know how to manage those things and put us in a position to win.”

Despite finishing the season with just four wins, there are still things Gittens thought were good. She pointed out to the character her team showed in some moments this season, which is certainly a positive to keep for next year.

“I think that when we played McGill, and that Leclerc went down [because of an injury], our players offered a phenomenal fight,” Gittens said. “To me, it showed their character and ability to respond to adversity. They proved they had each other’s back. It was the same in the last game of the season, as it would have been to just give up and [accept the fact] we’re already eliminated. However, we were at home, and gave us a chance to win the game. Our players played until the very end and cared.”


Feature photo by Alex Hutchins


Injuries won’t stop Nelly Owusu from playing basketball

Recruiting is essential for university sports teams, as in most cases, student-athletes play about four or five years with their team before graduating.

The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team recruited great talents from college in the past years––Nelly Owusu being one of them.

Owusu played basketball for Dawson College in division 1 of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) before playing for the Stingers. She was one of the best players in her league, especially in terms of defence, where she finished the 2017-18 season first in steals.

Head coach Tenicha Gittens said that when she recruited Owusu, she saw a player who had explosiveness, speed and an ability to take hold off defenders.

“It was amazing,” Gittens said. “She has one of the best attitudes. She’s definitely someone you want in your locker room, and as part of your program. We just saw her being able to be very disruptive on the defensive end of the floor.”

Owusu said she decided to join the Stingers because of the team’s coaching staff. She had offers from other places, such as McGill University and Bishop’s University, but Owusu said the coaches made her choice easier.

“I think it’s important to have a great coaching staff who believes in you and has your back,” Owusu said. “It’s important to know that your coaches not only care about you in terms of basketball, but also for your future. They’ll be around for the four-to-five years that you’re here.”

Owusu admitted she thought that the university basketball experience would be similar to when she played in college, but she quickly realized the difference in speed, strategies and talent level.

“At Dawson, we would [practice] an hour and a half, but it’s like two and a half hours here,” said Owusu. “It’s being able to remember everything, and apply it in the games. I thought I would be playing against all those same players that I played against in college, just like I played the same players in college that I played before in CEGEP.”

Gittens said the coaching staff was looking for that kind of defensive support when Owusu started with the Stingers. Owusu’s defensive game, as well as the little things she was bringing on the court, pushes her teammates to be better.

“When she first came here, it first took her like two games to kind of get the hang of it,” Gittens said. “Her ability to single handle defensively was what we were looking at. She was our leader defensively.”

Owusu has faced some challenging moments since her university debut. Unfortunately, two injuries slowed down her development, including an ACL tear. The point-guard said it was a frustrating moment, as it was her second ACL injury.

“I came in every day, and came at practice every day even if I couldn’t do much,” said Owusu. “I came back again for preseasons, but dislocated my shoulder. I really love basketball, and have played it for a long time. It was really demoralizing [to get hurt again], and be cheering from the bench once again. My experience [so far] includes a lot of determination, pushing and mental strength especially.”

Gittens said it’s hard to describe Owusu’s development so far because of her injuries. However, she thinks her defence has been an important part of the Stingers’s game since her arrival.

“When she’s really locked in, it opens up for more offensively. Nelly is more than just what you see on the scoresheet,” Gittens said. “On paper you’ll see steals, but you won’t see deflections. You won’t see that she created the steal. She was on her way to challenge Myriam [Leclerc] for rookie of the year, just based on what she was doing defensively. It was really exciting, and allowed us to play and do our thing.”

Owusu is obviously aware of her defensive talents, saying that she really likes the satisfaction of when she stops opponents, and does all those little things you won’t necessarily see on the scoresheet, but are as important as the baskets scored by the offence.

“When you get to lock down some specific players, for example the best players of the other teams, you feel that strength in you,” Owusu said. “I know that defence is important, even if a lot of people mostly just think about the amount of points and things like that. I feel like that low-key part is my best asset.”

With five games left to the team’s regular season, Owusu wants to improve her decision-making. She likes to attack the basket and shoot the ball, but is aware she sometimes needs to analyze the play better.

“Most of the time, all I see is the basket instead of looking around me and being aware of where the [opponent’s] defence is, or where my teammates are,” Owusu said. “If I’m not patient and not making the right decision, I can [make us lose possession]. If I do my job on defence, that’s fine, but if I can’t do it on the other end, than it won’t help the team.”


Photos by Cecilia Piga


Stingers 74, Citadins 54: The Stingers avenge their loss against the Citadins with a convincing win

The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team and Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins battled for a third straight game on Sunday afternoon at the Concordia Gym. The Stingers avenged their loss from Jan. 8 with a convincing 71-54 victory.

It was the Stingers’s annual Shoot for the Cure game. Since its first event in 2007, the campaign has raised more than $1.3 million. The Shoot for the Cure game is part of the eight Signature Series events presented by the Stingers in 2019-20.

The Citadins got a good start in the first quarter, taking an early 10-point lead. However, the Stingers gained momentum at the end of the quarter and never let the visitors control the game again. Stingers head coach Tenicha Gittens said the team just kept things simple.

“Our players listened,” Gittens said. “They just executed the game plan, and took advantage of their [Citadins] mistakes. I think we did a good job on both ends of the floor.”

The Stingers scored 27 of their 71 points in the second quarter, taking a 40-28 lead at halftime. While it was the most points that either team scored during any quarter of the game, Gittens said she didn’t think that quarter secured her team the win.

“I think that we played a very good game overall,” Gittens said. “You can win the second quarter and lose the game. You can say that it started through the first quarter. We picked it up, and were able to score and do things defensively. We put four quarters together.”

Gittens said her team was undisciplined when it lost its previous game to the Citadins. She said her players weren’t intense or showing energy.

“Those are things we can control,” Gittens said. “That’s one thing to play a great game and just lose. That last game, we didn’t play the way we’re practicing, and preparing every single day. This last Thursday and Friday at practice, it was as intense as if we were playing like today.”

Stingers’s point guard Caroline Task scored 26 points in the victory, in addition to grabbing four rebounds. Gittens said it makes other players’ jobs easier when she plays that well.

“Myriam Leclerc had to do a lot on the offensive end of the floor, in terms of executing and getting people to the right place,” Gittens said. “It makes a huge difference when Task comes in and delivers shots like that. Our players did their job [today].”

The Stingers will play McGill on Jan. 23 at the Concordia Gym. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m.


Six things we learned from Thursday’s double header against Bishop’s

The Concordia Stingers women’s basketball team lost to the nationally ranked #8 Gaiters in a blowout.

Bishop’s really flexed their muscles and showed the Stingers and their fans in attendance at the John Dore Court why they are the 8th ranked team in the nation, beating them by a final score of 79-53.

It was a tight, fast paced game through the first 5 minutes of the opening tip-off but then it fell off the rails for the Stingers. The size mismatch proved to be too much for them as they were out-rebounded 47-33, which included 19 offensive rebounds for the Gaiters.

The Stingers also shot way below par at 35.6% from the field, and only made 2 three pointers on 20 attempts. On the other side, the Gaiters only shot 41.8% but made 12 more shots from the field, mostly coming off second chance opportunities. Their rookie guard Jael Kabunda took the game by storm and introduced herself to the RSEQ division, putting up a game high 32 points. Kabunda more than tripled her team’s next leading scorer.

Here’s what we learned from the women’s game:

  • The Stingers short bench is going to be a problem for them down the stretch of the season. It’s not that this team doesn’t have talent, they simply just don’t have the (wo)manpower on the bench to give their starters a rest, only rolling 8 players throughout the game. Down the stretch of the season, that can wear on players and fatigue will set in. Nelly Owusu is recovering from a knee injury that kept her out for all of last season and is expected to return at some point this season. After Thursday’s performance, it’s evident that they need her back sooner rather than later.
  • A major bright spot for the Stingers, on a night that was bereft of them, was Sabrina Linéus. If you looked at her statline from the game, you might not find anything all that impressive. That being said, if you watched the game, you know what I’m about to talk about. Defensively, even when the Stingers were down by as much as 32 at one point, she was still giving Bishop’s issues as her compete level never dropped. She proved that she can be an effective bench player who will always give it her all, even when the game is far out of reach. That’s the type of attitude that coaches love.
  • We’ve seen these types of games before from the Stingers. Their shot selection was not the problem Thursday night — they were taking good shots, just nothing was falling for them. This game taught us way more about the Gaiters than it did about the Stingers. Last year, we saw Myriam Leclerc come in and dominate for the Stingers, so much so that it won her the U Sports rookie of the year award. Well, one year later, Jael Kabunda looks to be poised to win that award. It’s only one game into the season for the Gaiters but she had an absolutely dominant performance, finishing with 32 points and 8 rebounds. Kabunda wasn’t even a starter for the Gaiters but after that performance I’m sure she’ll be in their starting five for the foreseeable future.


On the men’s side of things, the Stingers fared much better against the 7th nationally ranked Gaiters. They took down Bishop’s 79-72.

The scoreline is being a lot nicer to Bishop’s than how the actual game went as the Stingers held a double digit lead for most of the game.

The Stingers played as perfect of a first quarter as a team possibly could, going 14-16 from the field or shooting at 87.5%. Olivier Simon stole the show for the Stingers as he threw down two dunks in the opening quarter — a rarity in RSEQ basketball.

Of course there was regression to the mean for the Stingers in terms of shooting percentage, but they never looked back from that first quarter. Cedric Bryan Coriolan also had one of his best performances as a Stinger, putting up 20 points, going 7 for 12 from the field, including 4/7 from three point range.

This was one of the best full-team performances I’ve ever seen from the basketball team. Here are my takeaways:

  • The Stingers are not a one man team. A lot of people have been counting out this team with the departures of 2018-19 RSEQ MVP Ricardo Monge and Garry Merisier and now it seems like this team has a chip on their shoulder to prove that they still belong in the RSEQ Championship conversation. On Thursday night, four out of the starting five players for the Stingers put up double digit point totals. The offensive depth is something to keep an eye on for the rest of the year as they have some talented players on the bench as well. This group looks poised to make another run at the RSEQ Championship and book themselves another trip to nationals and they proved that last night by taking down the #7 ranked team in the country.
  • While it was an all around great game, it has to be said, Olivier Simon has taken his game to another level this season. It’s only two games into it, but he looks like a man on a mission out there. He didn’t get much playing time in the second quarter, but still put his stamp on the game, putting up a respectable 10 points, and going 5/7 from the field in just 17 minutes of game time. I for one, believe he is worth the price of admission alone, and if he continues this level of play, he will be at the front of the line to pick up RSEQ MVP honours for this season.
  • Lastly, Adrian Armstrong is not just a three-point shooter. In a game where he went 0/5 from three point range, he still put up 14 points going 7/11 from inside the three point line. Armstrong showed off his incredible ball handling skills all game long and did not force any tough looks. Concordia’s version of Ray Allen has added another weapon to his game. He also added six assists to his statline, creating offense from everywhere. This has been a lot of smoke blowing up the Stingers’ behinds, but after a performance like last night’s, praise has to be thrown their way.


Photos by Cecilia Piga


Photo Spread: Stingers basketball teams sweep UQAM in home opener weekend

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