Provincial talent set to hit the hardwoods for 12th edition of women’s basketball showcase

Photo by Michael P. Hall
Photo by Michael P. Hall

Burlington, Ont. – From impressive up-and-comers to national champions, some of the best to hit the hardwood this past season are coming to York University for the OUA Women's Basketball All-Star Showcase, presented by Peel Regional Police. Whether they are just etching their names onto the university basketball scene or penning the final pages of their storied tenure, the talent will be front and centre at the annual affair on Saturday, May 4 at 5:00pm, immediately following the highly-anticipated Women & Girls in Leadership and Sport Conference.

A total of 20 players representing 14 schools will suit up for the 12th edition of the all-star festivities, including several of the stellar standouts from the year that was.

Among those who will take to the court for this year's event are a pair of McMaster Marauders; both of whom played leading roles in helping the Hamilton squad capture their first Bronze Baby in program history. Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, Ont.), who was named MVP of the national tournament, and Sarah Gates (Newmarket, Ont.), the conference's second-leading scorer (17.1 PPG), will combine to form a potent one-two punch for their squad, just like the OUA all-stars did for their championship squad all year long. 

The McMaster pair will suit up for a familiar coach, meanwhile, as they will be guided by Theresa Burns. The long-time Marauders bench boss will see plenty of pristine talent at her disposal for the annual showcase, as she'll have another pair of 2018-19 second-team all-stars to call on during the game as well. Marianne Alarie (Sudbury, Ont.) and Melissa Tatti (Ancaster, Ont.) both had impactful campaigns for their respective clubs, with the former leading the Queen's Gaels in scoring this year (15.8 PPG; T-4th in OUA) and the latter finishing in the conference's top-three in both points per game (16.2 PPG) and assists per game (4.5 APG).

Tasked with playing a leading role in stopping the Team Burns offensive attack is the OUA's top defensive player from the 2018-19 season. Carleton's Nicole Gilmore (Hamilton, Ont.) anchored the Ravens' highly-regarded team defence this season, but she can also make waves on the other end of the floor (14.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.5 APG); a well-rounded game that should come in handy for Michèle Bélanger, as the 40-year veteran coach for the Toronto Varsity Blues will also serve as coach this weekend.

Gilmore will be going up against one of her teammates from the nation's capital – third-team all-star Alyssa Cerino (Stoney Creek, Ont.) – but will have plenty of support in this showcase as well. Third-teamers Jama Bin-Edward (Waterloo, Ont.) from the Ryerson Rams and Nikki Ylagan (Mississauga, Ont.) from the Lakehead Thunderwolves will be ones to watch on Team Bélanger after their standout campaigns, but one of the keys to the team's overall success will be their youth movement.

Three all-rookies will be taking part in this year's showcase; two of which will help buoy the Team Bélanger roster. Kaitlin Overeem (Brantford, Ont.) made quite a name for herself during her Rookie of the Year campaign and she'll bring her 13.2 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, and 3.2 assists per game to the backcourt. She will also be joined by fellow all-rookie Sofia Lluch (Mahon, Spain) on Team Bélanger. Nipissing's Angeline Campbell (Brampton, Ont.), the Lakers leading scorer, will spearhead the rookie contingent on Team Burns.

Each side, meanwhile, will give the hometown crowd a further reason to cheer, as the York Lions will have representation across the board. Suiting up for Team Burns will be Katrina Collins-Samuels (Hamilton, Ont.), while Lauren Golding (Windsor, Ont.) grabs a spot on Team Bélanger.

The happenings on the hardwood won't be the only event to look forward to at the university; however, as this year's all-star showcase is coming on the heels of the Women & Girls in Leadership and Sport Conference (WGLSC), which takes place at the York University campus from Friday, May 3 to Saturday, May 4.

This year's edition of the WGLSC will feature several opportunities for attendees to engage, educate, and empower women, girls, and allies to enhance leadership opportunities for women in sport. Guided by the principles of resilience, breaking barriers, and leadership, the WGLSC will include a diverse lineup of speakers, headlined by a keynote speech from three-time Olympic medalist Kallie Humphries; breakout sessions; and more for the sport community to take in.

Following the conference, the 12th Annual OUA Women's Basketball All-Star Showcase will round out an empowering weekend of women in sport at York University, and will surely offer up an opportunity to celebrate the immense talent that is a key part of the 4,000+ female student-athletes and 300+ female coaches within the OUA.

For those who can't make it to the Tait McKenzie Centre at York University to catch the game, fans can also tune in live to OUA.tv for all the action.

The complete rosters for both squads are listed below:

Team Belanger

Nicole Gilmore, Carleton
Nikki Ylagan, Lakehead
Sofia Lluch, Lakehead
Kayla Deschatelets*, Laurentian
Cara Tiemens, Ryerson
Jama Bin-Edward, Ryerson
Nada Radonjic, Toronto
Kaitlin Overeem, Waterloo
Tyra Blizzard, Windsor
Lauren Golding, York
Alana Renon, Ottawa
Bailey Tabin, Laurentian

Team Burns

Melissa Tatti, Brock
Alyssa Cerino, Carleton
Burke Bechard, Guelph
Tiffany Reynolds, Lakehead
Jill Condron, Laurier
Linnaea Harper, McMaster
Sarah Gates, McMaster
Angeline Campbell, Nipissing
Marianne Alarie, Queen's
Katrina Collins-Samuels, York