Orlando trip goes beyond basketball for Cavaliers
Laval students compete in U.S. tournament
Sometimes a sports tournament is about more than competing or testing your skills.
It can be about experiencing a part of the world you’ve never visited before and sharing that with your teammates.
For the Laval Cavaliers female basketball team, their December excursion to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Classic tournament carried with it the sense of something more.
While competing in the five-day tournament Dec. 17-21 in sunny Orlando, Fla., Laval made sure to take in all of the sights the city had to offer. The trip was non-stop from sun-up to sunrise. The only time they returned to their rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort-Riverside was to sleep.
“It was really busy. We never stopped,” said player Shauna Griffiths.
A part of Disney World, the resort is nestled along the Sassagoula River and a stone’s throw from Epcot Centre. It gave the Cavaliers premier access to what’s commonly billed as the most magical place on Earth.
The group had passes to all four theme parks, although they did not get to Animal Kingdom, and took in an NBA basketball game between the Orlando Magic and the Utah Jazz.
“The trip was way more than basketball,” said coach Amy O’Reilly.
With a record of two wins and one loss against teams from Florida, Ontario and Tennessee, the Cavaliers finished in third-place. It was a respectable finish for a team from this province testing themselves on the international stage.
The Cavaliers, ranked seventh in this province as of Dec. 31, played four games — one of which was an exhibition — against teams from Canada and the United States.
For her efforts, Griffiths was named her team’s most valuable player. She was lauded for her oncourt leadership and skills as a player.
However, the recognition came as a surprise to the Level III student.
“I was not expecting it at all,” she said.
Griffiths received her award during the tournament’s award ceremony at the Epcot Centre.
The Cavaliers pitted their skills against teams featuring some players who are likely destined to compete for NCAA Division I schools.
“There were times when we had to step up our games and we did,” said O’Reilly. “We had to use our brains a bit more. The basketball part of it was great.”
For the players, Griffiths said there were some different rules to get used too. There was no shot clock, as opposed to the 24-seconds teams have to get a shot off at home.
“It took a little getting used to. I loved it,” she said. “You didn’t feel rushed at all to get the best shot. It helped move the ball more.
“I loved playing players who I don’t know anything about.”
‘The best player I’ve ever seen’
During the team’s exhibition match against a team from Fort Pierce, the Cavaliers bore witness to an exceptional player who left quite an impression on players and staff alike, though they could not recall her name.
“She was the best girls basketball player I have ever seen,” said O’Reilly. “I don’t know if she had her feet square to the rim or not, but she could go up, catch and then turn and put the ball in off the backboard. “She was unbelievable.” “I’ve never seen a girl jump so high,” added Griffiths.
O’Reilly has been a coach at Laval for a number of years. There were players on this trip that had been with her since Grade 7.
“Sharing it with them. That made it extra special,” added O’Reilly.
“We wanted to make it a big memory,” added Griffiths.
The Laval Cavaliers female basketball team competed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Classic tournament in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 17-21. Members of the team are: front (l-r) — Brooklyn McCarthy, Emily O’Keefe, Allison Kelly, Haley Fudge and Cassidy Barry; back — manager Melanie Whyte, Amber Barron, Brittany McCarthy, Shauna Griffiths, Heather Pike, Bailey Lannon, Ashley O’Keefe, Mackenzie Wakeham, assistant coach Pam Constantine and coach Amy O’Reilly.