Northern light ready to shine

THE WORLD AT HER FINGERTIPS: Grade 10 phenom McKenzie Sigurdson has become a respected cager at Northern SS in the two years she’s attended the midtown school.

Playing on senior girls basketball team no problem for Sigurdson

It’s halftime at the senior boys city semis between Oakwood and Sir Wilfred Laurier, but the buzz in the stands at Northern SS is focused on the scorekeeper who keeps shooting treys in her socks.

For the duration of the break, Northern student McKenzie Sigurdson did not miss a basket pivoting with crispness only known to those donning Nikes.

Recollecting the moment over a month later, the 15 year old giggles.

“I didn’t have basketball shoes so I didn’t want to fall,” she said. “I had my Birks on, they’re pretty slippery, so it’s easier to shoot in socks.”

It’s a common sight to see the 10th grader, who’s been playing senior girls hoops for the Red Knights since her freshman year, get in some practice on the sly, coach Wendy Luck says.

“It sounds silly but it’s kind of a regular thing with her,” she said. “(McKenzie) comes in and she’ll shoot by herself if the gym is available.

“She shoots around more than our boys do.”

That enthusiasm, accompanied by an effervescent personality, may come from being born into a hoopster family.

Both her parents, Eric Sigurdson and Karen Spalding, enjoyed basketball success in both high school and university.

Even though there’s hardwood lineage in her family tree, Sigurdson admits her introduction to the sport was serendipitous.

“I was at a sports camp when I was nine and I was really drawn to the basketball and loved the sound of it,” she said. “Dribbling is my favourite thing to do and it’s never stopped since then.”

Before Sigurdson set foot through Northern’s doors, Luck was familiar with her talents. McKenzie’s older sister played for the Red Knights.

“I knew she was great,” Luck said. “McKenzie was in shooting three pointers. She was my halftime show and that was when she was in grade 6.”

In two years, the young phenom has experienced two city championship finals, including a trip to OFSAA in her first year. She also plays in the Ontario Junior Women’s Elite League with Oakville Venom.

Sigurdson admits there was a little trepidation playing with girls four years older, but the summer before her rookie season she had the chance to play with one of her future Red Knights.

“I actually played with Kate Easton who was going into grade 12, so I really got to know her,” she said. “It made it an easier transition for me.”

A second opportunity for OFSAA came last fall, but fell short at the hands of a hungry Eastern Commerce squad, 81-17.

Hampered with a deep knee bruise, Sigurdson was forced to sit the game out. Her resolve impressed Luck.

“You know she sees the big picture and she knows what her long-term goals are,” Luck said. “She handled everything exceptionally well considering her age.”

Regardless of her injury, what elated Sigurdson most was the spirit her teammates had in the face of adversity.

Given the opportunity to let the clock run without stopping in the second half, Northern’s ladies opted to stay the course.

“It made me really proud of the girls because they didn’t want to give up no matter what the score was and fight our hardest until the final buzzer went.”

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