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Senior Girls take First at Esquimalt Fire

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By Ian West This weekend the Senior Girls basketball team finished first at the 2019 Esquimalt Fire tournament, improving upon their third-place finish from last year! The team opened the tournament Friday morning with a victory against the B team from Claremont. After starting the game hot, the score at the end of the first quarter was 22-0 for GNS. For the remaining 3 quarters, the team showed discipline, sportsmanship, and class as they passed the ball around to every player on the floor and ran down the clock. The sideline burst with cheers as first year player Rebecca Vesey scored her first two baskets of the season. The final score was 50-17, and Zoë Hammond was named game MVP by the opposition. Our Gryphons won their second game Friday night in a much more competitive contest against the host team from Esquimalt High. GNS withstood a late game surge that was fueled by an aggressive full court press, as Sophie Van Cuylenborg hit a pair of last minute free throws to seal the win. The final score was 43-35, and Em Thompson was named game MVP by the opposition. The final Saturday night against a joint team from École Au-Cœur-de-L’île and Highland High is what sports commentators would call a nail-biter. The Senior Girls team overcame an early deficit of 18-9 at the end of the first quarter and battled back in the second, going into halftime down only 1 with a score of 27-26. With multiple lead changes in the final two quarters and a final minute that included a total of four timeouts, our Gryphons persevered and shut down the opposing teams two All-Star players, who tallied 57 of their 66 points, through relentless team defense, aggressive rebounding, and exceptional communication. When the final buzzer sounded, the score was 68-66 for GNS, and Nicole Burnett was named game MVP by the opposition. GNS players were also recognized in the closing ceremonies as both Em Thompson and Nicole Burnett were awarded tournament All-Stars. Katie Hurst, who excelled at both ends of the floor, received the honour of Tournament MVP. Coaches Ian West and Sarah Bowder would also like to recognize the contributions of Zoë Hammond, who took control of the offense as our leader and distributor this weekend. Her impact in the final two games went far beyond the score sheet, as her hustle and finesse opened up high-percentage shots for her teammates all over the floor. The collective defense of Eliza Baines, Clara Meyer, and Nicole Gonin in the final game also deserve recognition, as they battled with the 6′ 3″ centre from École Au-Cœur-de-L’île, challenging every shot while racking up multiple blocks and rebounds in close quarters. The first place finish at the Esquimalt Fire tournament was a full-team effort. While all 13 players scored points in one game or another, it was the hard work and dedication in practice that gave them the opportunity to finish the tournament strong. GNS would like to thank our hosts at Esquimalt High and the Songhees Wellness Centre for their hospitality and for sharing their facilities with us. We acknowledge with respect the Lekwungen-speaking peoples on whose unceded traditional territory the tournament took place and the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.