BURLINGTON, Ont. – Some of the very best female basketball players the OUA has to offer are set to take the court this weekend, converging at the University of Waterloo for the latest edition of the OUA Women’s Basketball All-Star Game.
A total of 18 players representing 15 schools will suit up for the 11th edition of the annual All-Star affair at the Physical Athletics Complex in Waterloo, with tip-off set for 2:00pm on Saturday, May 5th.
Leading the charge for this year’s talent-laden rosters include a pair of coaches who know their way around the win column. After most recently going head-to-head in this year’s Critelli Cup final, reigning OUA Coach of the Year Taffe Charles from the Carleton Ravens and McMaster Marauder bench boss Theresa Burns will toe the sidelines once again on Saturday, bringing with them a wealth of experience, knowledge, and success both on the provincial and national levels.
Despite this year’s participants spanning the spectrum from first year phenoms to seasoned veterans, there is a definite theme on Team Burns, as her roster is exploding with experience. A total of five fifth-year players will pen the final pages of their OUA careers in Saturday’s game and each will do so under the guidance of the Marauders coach.
Among those taking part in the All-Star festivities is a pair of 2017-18 First Team All-Stars that are quite familiar in and around the conference’s elite – Ryerson’s Sofia Paska (Etobicoke, Ont.) and York’s Lindsay Shotbolt (Markham, Ont.). Both fifth year standouts made massive impacts for their respective squads this season, with the former ranking second in the OUA in scoring (20.3 PPG) and the latter checking in with a second-ranked 12.3 RPG on the year en route to a double-double average for the year.
Joining her fellow fifth years is senior Nicole Morrison (Hamilton, Ont.), who has been a mainstay for the Golden Hawks since her arrival. After another productive campaign (19.3 PPG), Morrison has risen the ranks to become the purple and gold’s all-time leading scorer and will be looking to once again make her mark among her fellow All-Star representatives.
Rounding out the crop of fifth-year players is Jerika Baldin (Brantford, Ont.), who will represent the Lakehead Thunderwolves, and Algoma’s Sydney Resch (Guelph, Ont.); both of whom made an impact across the stat sheet this year for their respective squads. It will be a welcomed sight to see all of these OUA mainstays take to the court for one final game, but suiting up alongside of them are also several rookies who will get their first taste of the marquee event.
Three of these first year players have already received some hardware in their inaugural seasons – collecting well-deserved All-Rookie Team nods for their efforts – and the likes of Brock’s Kristin Gallant (Halifax, NS), Guelph’s Burke Bechard (Dover Centre, Ont.), and McMaster’s Sarah Gates (Newmarket, Ont.) will each be looking to put a feather in the cap off their rookie campaigns.
While the aforementioned Gates has started her career at McMaster alongside running mate Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, Ont.), the dynamic duo will toe opposite sides of the court come Saturday. Harper, who poured in 21 points in last year’s contest, will go head-to-head with not only her Marauders teammate, but also coach, as the third year forward and OUA Third-Team All-Star will bring her 12.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game to Team Charles.
Rams’ rookie Jama Bin-Edward (Waterloo, Ont.) finds herself in a similar situation to the Mac pair, as she will also be vying with her typical teammate Paska, who just happens to be the all-time leading scorer in Ryerson history. Fourth-year Lion Chante Clarke (Toronto, Ont.) will also need to find a way to maneuver past her York teammate, Shotbolt, if she wants to help Team Charles earn the edge, and will surely be relying on her 11.5 PPG average to give her a boost in that matchup.
Varsity Blues sharpshooter Keyira Parkes (Scarborough, Ont.) will join be bringing her potent three-point stroke to the Waterloo Region, adding a definite scoring punch to Team Charles. Parkes ranked fifth in the OUA in scoring on the year, thanks in large part to her sizzling 45.8% success rate from the beyond the arc (tops in the OUA).
Helping to balance the offensive attack, meanwhile, will be two of the most well-rounded players that the OUA has to offer. Gaels’ forward Veronika Lavergne (Ottawa, Ont.) can pour in the points (13.5 PPG), hit the glass (6.8 RPG), and protect the paint (OUA-leading 2.1 BPG), as she has shown all season long for the Tricolour; all of which will need to be on high alert against the talented Team Burns.
Not to be outdone, to go along with her more than seven points per game and nearly five assists per contest, Gee-Gees’ Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus (Ottawa, Ont.) also chips in with 2.2 steals per game and will surely be a key defensive presence on Team Charles as well.
Team Burns, however, boasts strong potential for thievery as well, with Bechard and Laurentian’s Emily Tinnes (Newmarket, Ont.) both checking in with 2.4 steals per contest to sit fifth and sixth, respectively, in the OUA. Tinnes was also the Voyageurs’ leading scorer on the year (12.4 PPG); a skillset she will surely be looking to showcase on Saturday.
Also joining the Ravens coach from a nation’s capital school is a player with whom he is certainly familiar, as Carleton guard Alexandra Trivieri (St. Catharines, Ont.) also grabs a spot on Team Charles.
The final member of Team Charles will be giving the hometown fans a little something extra to cheer about. Second-year Warrior Sydney Wilson (Guelph, Ont.) will look to build on her 8.2 points per game on the year to give the Waterloo crowd a game to remember. Bringing her talents to round out Team Burns, meanwhile, is Lancers guard Tyra Blizzard (Ottawa, Ont.), who in her third year, continued to make strides for a talented Windsor squad.
In addition to the current crop of OUA talent, there will be two blasts from the past serving as honourary coaches. Former Windsor Lancers basketball standout and 2014-15 CIS (now U SPORTS) Female Athlete of the Year Korissa Williams – who serves as a Constable for the Peel Regional Police – along with York University alum and current Peel Regional Police Constable Edil Aden, will take to the sidelines on Saturday to support the players, the game, and all of the tremendous female talent from across the province.
The complete rosters for both Team Burns and Team Charles can be found below:
Jerika Baldin, Lakehead Thunderwolves
Burke Bechard, Guelph Gryphons
Tyra Blizzard, Windsor Lancers
Sarah Gates, McMaster Marauders
Nicole Morrison, Laurier Golden Hawks
Sofia Paska, Ryerson Rams
Sydney Resch, Algoma Thunderbirds
Lindsay Shotbolt, York Lions
Emily Tinnes, Laurentian Voyageurs
Jama Bin-Edward, Ryerson Rams
Chante Clarke, York Lions
Kristin Gallant, Brock Badgers
Linnaea Harper, McMaster Marauders
Veronica Lavergne, Queen’s Gaels
Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus, Ottawa Gee-Gees
Keyira Parkes, Toronto Varsity Blues
Alexandra Trivieri, Carleton Ravens
Sydney Wilson, Waterloo Warriors