Ange Gabriel on the verge of first LGSSAA ban­ner

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - JONATHON BRODIE

Ange Gabriel’s ju­nior girls bas­ket­ball team is just one win away from win­ning their school’s first LGSSAA ban­ner.

This par­tic­u­lar group of girls won Ange Gabriel its first-ever cham­pi­onship ban­ners of any kind at the ele­men­tary school level. Now they’ll get a chance to win Ange Gabriel’s first high school ac­co­lade when they take on the St. Mary Cru­saders in the Leeds- Grenville cham­pi­onship Thurs­day at 6 p.m. at St. Mary.

“It feels dif­fer­ent be­cause our school has never been this far, so I just feel pretty good about it,” said AG guard Chloé Lapointe.

Ange Gabriel’s po­ten­tial grand suc­cess this year is a cul­mi­na­tion that ex­tends far­ther back than just this sea­son.

Coach Luc Guénette has worked on AG’s bas­ket­ball pro­gram, as well as the Brockville Blaz­ers, for more than 10 years and even con­sid­ered step­ping down a few years ago when wins weren’t com­ing.

The bulk of the group has played to­gether since Grade 7, and even far­ther back for some. It was back at that in­ter­me­di­ate stage when Guénette would tell the girls, “I’m go­ing to bring you places in ninth and tenth grades and through high school,” said AG for­ward Ais­linn Davey.

There’s no guar­an­tee Ange Gabriel will win LGSSAA. On one hand, they swept through the reg­u­lar sea­son this year. On the other, the school has never had a team play in a LGSSAA cham­pi­onship and they’re tak­ing on a St. Mary team that took down the Gananoque Tro­jans in a very phys­i­cal game to get to the fi­nal.

AG has the tools to suc­ceed, though. They have this never-give up at­ti­tude that gets them a mass amount of of­fen­sive re­bounds reg­u­larly, as well as 6-foot-3 Lexi Joli­Coeur help­ing them out un­der the bas­ket. Guénette de­mands per­fec­tion from his team that it’s hard to tell if AG is win­ning if you’re just watch­ing the coach’s re­ac­tions to the game un­fold­ing.

They have so many tools that you just don’t see very often at their age. They’re pretty pol­ished with the way they move on the court and would give se­nior LGSSAA teams a run for their money.

“Ev­ery­one has a spe­cific role that we need them to play,” said Davey. “When one of them is not there it shakes our game a lit­tle bit at the be­gin­ning.”

There’s a like­able qual­ity to this squad as well. No mat­ter how good they are they will al­ways have this un­der­dog tag stuck to them be­ing the small­est school in the area with about 60 stu­dents en­rolled.

It’s the sup­port they have for each other that gives them this added charm, though. There was a point in Tues­day’s semi­fi­nal against Rideau when Nyah Ro­bichaud, one of the team’s top play­ers, was taken out by her coach for an ex­tended pe­riod. A lot of peo­ple in Ro­bichaud’s shoes would have sulked or sat at the end of the bench qui­etly. Ro­bichaud did the ex­act op­po­site and was the loud­est per­son in the gym at some points – even louder than Guénette at times – by cheer­ing on her team­mates. It’s that mind­set of, “If I can’t help my team on the court then I’ll help them off it,” that makes Ange Gabriel a win­ner al­ready in a lot of ways, whether they win their first LGSSAA ban­ner or not.

JONATHON BRODIE/The RecoRdeR and Times

Shown here is Ange Gabriel’s Nyah Ro­bichaud dur­ing Tues­day’s semi­fi­nal game against Rideau.

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