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Regi opens with victory at girls AAA OFSAA basketball
Posted: November 21st, 2013 @ 10:35pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Molly Rutherford gets to take care of Mackenzie tonight.
Mackenzie the basketball, that is.
The ball sits on the bench of the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers, representing the spirit of Mackenzie Curran, a teammate who is unable to attend the provincial high school championship in London because she's undergoing treatment for a serious blood disorder in a Toronto hospital.
"The kid that has the most heart and hustle in the game gets to take care of 'Mackenzie' and bring her to the next game," Regi coach Lesley Stevenson explained, after her team defeated St. Basil of Sault Ste. Marie 45-19 in a first-round game at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations AAA tournament.
"She's there symbolically. (Mackenzie) sits on the bench with us and she's sitting on the bench with us now, but as a basketball. I said to the girls it's like Space Jam. You put your hand on the ball and if you need something, a little bit of extra energy, Mackenzie's there to give it to you."
Rutherford earned the honour Thursday night with a sparkling defensive performance.
"Her hustle and intensity was amazing," Stevenson said, "to the point where their point guard actually had tears in her eyes. She couldn't do anything."
It was a superb top-to-bottom defensive effort from the start that secured the victory, Stevenson said.
"We had an answer for everything they tried to throw at us," she said. "Every single one of them was perfect on defence.
"We talked about this game being very important, and we needed to be ready to play right away, possession by possession, scores and stops, just stay focused at the task at hand and not look at the big picture."
To that end, the Panthers, the fifth-seeded team at this 16-team competition, pressed from the opening tip.
"That's what fuels us," Stevenson said. "We're a run-and-gun team and we need to be active."
Regi loosened the noose to half-court pressure in the second quarter, once the lead started to approach 20 points. St. Basil, the tournament's 15th seed, never scored more than six points in a period.
Bridgit Mulholland led Regi with 15 points, as the Kingston Area and eastern Ontario champion led 12-6 after the first quarter and 23-11 at halftime.
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