Or­lando trip goes beyond bas­ket­ball for Cava­liers

Laval stu­dents com­pete in U.S. tour­na­ment

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.

The tour­na­ment

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.

Test­ing them­selves

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.

Sub­mit­ted photo

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.

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