East-end bas­ket­ball star hopes to suit up for Canada at worlds

Orleans Star - - SPORTS -

“It’s go­ing to be tough – there’s a lot of great play­ers, es­pe­cially in my po­si­tion,” says Pi­ly­paitis, one of the 14 ath­letes vy­ing to make the fi­nal cut on Sun­day, Sept. 5. “It’d be a big hon­our to play for them my first time try­ing.”

Ear­lier this sum­mer, Pi­ly­paitis spent close to six weeks in Bri­tish Columbia train­ing with 20 of the other top fe­male ath­letes from across the coun­try. She also wore the maple leaf in an ex­hi­bi­tion se­ries against Chile in July – the first game ac­tion Pi­ly­paitis saw since cap­ping her ca­reer at the Uni­ver­sity of Ver­mont by lead­ing the Cata­mounts to the school’s firstever win at the NCAA women’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment.

“I hadn’t played awhile in an ac­tual game, so it was fun to get on the court and play again,” smiles the St. Peter Catholic High School grad who re­cently spent three con­sec­u­tive weeks back home for the first time since high school. “Pick-up just isn’t the same. You don’t have the same men­tal­ity and in­ten­sity.”

Over­all, Pi­ly­paitis says the train­ing camp pushed her harder than in col­lege and her team­mates of­fered a level of com­pe­ti­tion a step above what she’s used to.

“I think I did fairly well,” Pi­ly­paitis adds, not­ing she ex­ceeded her own ex­pec­ta­tions by suc­cess­fully try­ing things that she wasn’t ac­cus­tomed to such as tak­ing pull-up jumpers. “I was happy with how I played. Be­ing a first-timer, I was just get­ting used to how ev­ery­thing is run at that level. I took my bumps for sure, but I think I stuck with it and got bet­ter each and ev­ery day.

“That was prob­a­bly the biggest thing for me – I gained ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The for­mer mem­ber of Cana­dian youth and World Uni­ver­sity Games teams is now on the cusp of at­tain­ing a long-time ca­reer goal – to play for the se­nior na­tional squad. Re­gard­less of whether she makes the fi­nal ros­ter for the worlds, Pi­ly­paitis hopes to play pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball in Europe later this fall.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.