Gators hunt for CISAA’s coveted title

GATOR TOUGH: Havergal’s senior girls basketball team has been tearing up Division 1 hoops in CISAA. At the helm are coaches Fred Grannum, far left, and Sheila McNeill, far right. Leading the way as captain is Ali Shamie, back row, third from left.

But Ridley College proves a challenge

Havergal’s basketball teams take after its reptilian namesake and have one tough defensive hide.

Until recently, the Gators three oldest squads, seniors, juniors and under-14s have all sat atop their respective Division 1 tables before the seniors lost their hold, losing against rival Ridley College, 43-42, Oct. 17.

But don’t think that loss to their nemesis has deterred captain Ali Shamie from the team’s objective.

“You can never be sure of any game,” she said. “We know that Ridley is a very strong team, so we were really focusing on our zone defence and keeping the ball fast on offence.”

The goal is the CIS Division 1 championship title.

Shamie admits having a small bench — only two extra cagers — poses a bit of challenge.

“Most games we have to bring up juniors but because of the environment coach Fred (Grannum) really thrives in and what we play in is we’re all very supportive of each other,” she said. “We work really hard and that’s the commitment that Fred’s kind of expecting and that’s what we give him.”

In eight years of coaching the Gators, Grannum has noticed even though the school is not a fountain of basketball phenoms, its philosophy has rubbed off on his athletes.

“The school does a really good job overall with getting the girls into basketball,” he said. “They are not all basketball players per se but it’s their hard work and commitment that makes things work.”

Determination and dedication are exuded by the offensive and defensive skills of the Quinn twins, Rebecca and Jillian.

“They are probably one or two of the most athletic young ladies that I’ve coached in a number of years,” Grannum said. “Their athleticism up and down the court, their conditioning, anticipation, rebounding.”

Shamie agreed.

“I’ve known the Quinn twins for a very long time and they’re just very raw athletes,” she said. “I have never seen such a competitive spirit but at the same time be such team leaders.

“We really, really look to them to lead the team in certain aspects, and we’re lucky to have them.”

Also contributing on the court, high scoring in two games a piece, are Sarah Caplice and Flora Hay. Caplice drained 16 points in Havergal’s 28-26 season opener win against Hillfield Strathallan. She also notched 19 more in a 57-39 win versus Greenwood College. Hay tallied 20 and 22 points in victories against Branksome Hall and St. Clement’s.

With his starting five pulling no punches, and focusing on bringing their game to the hardwood, Grannum is not worried about a championship rematch with Ridley.

“Our intentions are to pretty much go and play the way we do, and try to stick to our guns,” he said. “We don’t get involved in the ups and downs of what the other teams are doing.

“If we do what we do well, we usually come out on top as well.”

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