Sen­tinels re­peat as champs

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

To win one cham­pi­onship is quite the feat, but to re­peat as cham­pi­ons is some­thing else al­to­gether. The Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate Sen­tinels fe­male bas­ket­ball team turned the trick when they cap­tured their sec­ond straight AAAA Tier II fe­male bas­ket­ball ti­tle, de­feat­ing the Holy Trinity Tigers in an over­time thriller 69-65.

Over­time games are a gut check for play­ers and coaches in any sport. Both have to push them­selves for longer than they bar­gained for if they want to win the game. Head­ing into the fi­nal of the AAAA Tier II fe­male bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onships, the Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate Lady Sen­tinels were feel­ing that as the last few sec­onds of reg­u­la­tion slipped away in their matchup with the Holy Trinity Tigers from Tor­bay. “We were neck and neck the en­tire game,” said guard Mor­gan Clarke. “When it was 60-60, I said, ‘no, no, this isn’t hap­pen­ing.’ I was so stressed out”

De­spite the nerves, the Sen­tinels wanted it a lit­tle bit more than the Tigers and came out with the 69-65 victory and their sec­ond straight Tier II pro­vin­cial ti­tle. Peo­ple say re­peat­ing as a cham­pion is the hard­est thing to do in sports. Cham­pi­ons can’t sneak up on teams and coaches pre­pare ac­cord­ingly.

“I think we knew we had a bet­ter shot at win­ning it, but we never ex­pected to come out two in a row,” said Clarke. Th­ese Sen­tinels have al­ways been ahead of the plan laid out for them by coach Ed­ward Jarvis. Last year was sup­posed to be a learn­ing year with aims at se­ri­ously com­pet­ing this year. Last sea­son’s victory turned that no­tion on its ear, while this ti­tle has sent other teams back to the drawing board.

“The third year was the orig­i­nal year when we were sup­posed to win,” said for­ward Ari­anna Lee. “We’re two years ahead of sched­ule.” Head­ing into the cham­pi­onship game, the Tigers and Sen­tinels had met five pre­vi­ous times this sea­son. Holy Trinity held a com­mand­ing 5-0 lead in the sea­son se­ries and had pun­ished the Sen­tinels in the last game the teams played be­fore the pro­vin­cial tour­na­ment.

How­ever, the early sea­son re­sults fu­elled the team’s de­sire to get one in the win col­umn be­fore the sea­son closed. “Be­fore the game started we said ‘We’re not friends, we have to win this,’” said Clarke. “We won the one that counted,” added Jarvis. Teams that have played to­gether for a num­ber of years form a cer­tain level of trust with each when on the floor. Think the San An­to­nio Spurs of the NBA and you’ll have an idea of what that means.

The Sen­tinels have that in spades. “We have trust when we pass the ball,” said Clarke. “If we make a bad pass, we know Mal­lory (Gille­spie) or Chelsea (Par­sons) are go­ing to catch it. We have the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of size, speed and chem­istry.”

“We’re like a big fam­ily,” added Kennedy. “We have good chem­istry and we pick up for each other.” Head­ing into next sea­son, the core of the team is re­turn­ing, as the Sen­tinels are los­ing just two play­ers — Clarke and Anna Mont­gomery — to grad­u­a­tion. That leaves a group primed to po­ten­tially pro­duce a third straight pro­vin­cial ti­tle next sea­son.Clarke re­flected on fin­ish­ing her high school ca­reer with a sec­ond pro­vin­cial ban­ner. “For that game, the way it was played, the sports­man­ship, the hype and the crazi­ness of it, it was cer­tainly a way to end off my high school ca­reer.”

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