Words from Coach de Vries:
Parents; thank you! Driving kids to practice and back, and weekends, watching, and cheering, bleacher butt and all. For the inevitable consoling, explaining, listening, and guiding that is part of being a parent, but maybe moreso if your child plays sports. Thank you parents!
Spirits, the unseen; thank you! Erin, Dylan, Mitch, Sara, sponsors, fellow coaches, and any others I have surely missed. For support without glory. Thank you!
Rachel, my most worthy fellow coach; thank you! For your time, and teaching, and calm in my storm, for understanding these girls when all is foggy to me. Thank you!
Spirits….don’t let Rachel get too busy for basketball. She is a positive force for this club.
In our first team meeting I explained how easy my job as coach was. Just three simple tenets:
RESPECT the game and all associated with it.
BE BETTER. Strive to help everyone who wants it – including me – to be better at basketball.
YOUR TEAM. This is your team girls and all the opportunity and responsibility that comes with that. Rachel and I will work hard to get you to where you want to go with basketball but this is your team.
And what a team it has become!
Started off in Pool D of OBL. Winning all games by too much. Then to Pool C, where we easily belonged, playing better teams but still mostly winning. Tournaments gave us better competition, better learning opportunities, and more team confidence. Our 59 – 33 gold medal win over Kingston (a Pool B team) in the IEM tournament gave us a real glimpse of possibilities. In Durham, early April, we had two very tenacious wins over Barrie and Durham, again putting us in the gold game. Thunder Bay beat us by 3 points, but, given our injuries and a few bad bounces, we were right with them the whole game.
This team has an identity and, as a group, they embraced that identity. First and foremost, defense. Everyone, everywhere, always. Pesky, persistent, patient, always an attitude that it is our ball and we are coming to get it! Relentless defence. Then rebounding. We grew from hands in the air hoping for the ball to owning space on the floor, securing rebounds, and push, push, push, in transition. These girls figured out who they were, who they could be, as a team. And stuck to it. Believed it.
As a team we learned several different motion and zone offense strategies. When something wasn’t working the girls would themselves initiate a change in our offense. Seeing the game! So amazing to witness.
CHAMPIONS, GOLD MEDAL, POOL 1 OBA CUP. CHAMPIONS! Below OBLX your U16 girls are the best in the province for OBA.
Eighteen days after the gold medal game and I still pinch myself with that reality.
How? We lost our first game to Kingston by one point. What a battle. Win or lose those are the games that build character, and show character. Onward. Defeated Kitchener by 11 points, then a rematch with Thunder Bay. As a coach I hope to teach enough so that I can get out of the way and let the girls play. Certainly the case in this game. These girls were simply not going to lose this one. Thirteen point victory. Into gold game vs Barrie. We went down 10 – 2 very early, but again, credit to this group, they pivoted their approach and got it back, one basket at a time. Five point victory in the end against a very worthy adversary.
Sport can build memories. For life. This season can be a life memory for you girls. For Avery, Carys, Emery, Grace, Hannah, Lou, Mak, Nyomi, Samantha, and Syrena. Embrace it! Enjoy it! Build forward from it!
Thank you girls! For all this season has been. Thank you!
Spirits girls travelled all the way to N. York (that’s North, not New) this past weekend for their Final Four OBL games. Saturday started strong with their second win this season over Ottawa; 46 – 29.
Then, North Toronto Huskies, a taller team than us for sure but, over time, no match for our ‘wheels always in motion‘ approach. Spirits won 52 – 39.
Sunday noon start with a game against Halton. They are a quick, disciplined, and patient bunch of girls, playing solid defense and space/share offense. OBL provided no shot clocks this weekend so it took amazing defensive effort from our girls to hold Halton in check for 20, 30, sometimes up to 40 seconds with no 24 second stoppage.
Ball pressure, always
everywhere, was, again, the key for us. And transition points.
Spirits girls are always looking to push it down the floor. Missed some chances but made lots too. Shout out to the U19 girls who came out to cheer us on to a 52 – 46 win.
We ended the weekend with a win over Brampton 53-35. By then, hot days, hot gym, both teams were looking pretty tired.
Great to get four more solid wins as we head into OBA Cup weekend May 5. Big thanks to team sponsor @ellbrookexcavatinginc for your support this season!
Thanks again to parents and friends for support all weekend!
Sometimes offence comes to the basketball party. Sometimes not. But for these girls defense owns the gym that hosts the party. And so it was again this weekend.
Always, all effort, never quit. Grace and Mak are constant persistent, pesky ball pressure, Lou and Emery the glue that fixes everything, Avery doing whatever asked. Carys, Hannah, Nyomi, Samantha, and Syrena putting it all out there; rebounds, intense defense, getting better every game.
Our first game, early Saturday; 65 – 35 over London. Then Barrie, a U16 OBL X entry, solid on all levels. A ‘pay to watch‘ worthy game. Back and forth, quick, physical, the kind of game we all hope for, and scares us too. Won 40 – 34. A total step up defensive effort from everyone and great choices and execution on offense. Our final game on Saturday was a 45 – 22 win over Nepean.
Sunday, Samantha was out with injury and Lou was fighting sickness but we still defeated DCBA 47 – 30. A game much closer than the score shows, asking multiple minutes and many different tasks from all players.
That set us up for gold game with Wolves Elite from Thunder Bay. They are big, strong, and also a ‘D’ first believer. A great effort from all but we just ran out of options in the end; losing 34 – 30. Won on all levels but the score.
Parents – again – were awesome. Rachel and I cannot say enough about the effort, positive energy, and never quit attitude every player brought this weekend. Winners all!
Next event for us is our last OBL weekend April 15/16.
The U16 midget girls travelled to Markham this past Saturday for weekend #4 OBL.
The team had moved up a pool so certainly both games were more competitive, losing the first 34 – 27 to London Ramblers and winning the afternoon game 55 – 37 over Blessed Sacrement Yellow Jackets.
Against London, lots was going right; good energy, opportunities, aggressive defence and rebounding. But “rimitis” got us. Just nothing would fall through. It happens. Great learning opportunity for everyone.
Certainly sparked a fire for our afternoon game.
The girls pushed ahead 11 – 0 very early and never looked back. Great ball pressure defense, often forcing 12 – 15 seconds off the shot clock before the Yellow Jackets got anywhere near the basket. Lots of tips, deflections and push outs to transition scores. Always fast, always fun to watch.
This team continues to show better, building confidence along the way. Always positive with each other, always respectful, always willing to show great effort. Well done all!
– Coach de Vries
by Brock Ormond
Two more medals were won by Belleville Spirits girls basketball teams this past weekend.
The U16 Spirits finalized an undefeated season with a gold medal at the IEM Tournament in Newmarket, defeating the Kingston Impact 59-33 in the final game.
Meanwhile, the U19 Spirits achieved silver at the Barrie Royals U19 AAA Tournament, losing a heartbreaker by one basket in the gold medal contest.
The team is sitting in second place in Pool A in the Ontario Basketball League this season.
Both squads are back in action for OBL play this month.
This follows the U14 Spirits gold medal win last month in Orleans.
Rosters for the teams can be seen below.
Saturday saw the girls travel to Havergal College in Toronto for two OBL games. Possibly inspired by the great gym on an awesome campus the Spirits major midget girls racked up two more wins, bringing their OBL total to six. The early morning start against Ottawa Next Level proved no deterrent as the team came out early and strong with a full court press, good rebounding, and quick transition. With Spirits leading 30 – 18 at the half, Ottawa was unable to match the ongoing pace and pressure. Final score was 57 – 31 with Lou getting 18 points, Avery and Mak with 12 each.
The afternoon game, against Niagra Red Raiders, was more tenacious, especially at the start. We are trying to implement different defensive and press strategies as well as diversify our offensive options. Certainly some confusion but, as we get it figured out, our game will certainly grow stronger. After a 31 – 17 half time lead the Spirits finished strong, winning 51 – 33. A very balanced scoring game; Emery leading with 10 points.
Defense, rebounding, and transition continue to influence every game we play. Shoutout to Grace for ‘ never quit’ ball pressure defense, to all the girls who are, with time, figuring out how to secure rebounds for us. Our transition offense – and defense – continues to get quicker, stronger, smarter. Thank you girls for doing the hard work required to get better.
Finally, many parents at the games. Awesome to see. Many thanks.
Next event is March 4/5 tournament in Newmarket.
London teams experienced some Belleville energy this weekend as our U16 Spirits girls defeated London 86ers 56 – 20, then London Gold Medal 51 – 23.
In both games our girls set the tone early with an active press. This often forced turnovers leading to quick scores. Defense continues to dominate for these girls, often allowing transition to layups.
Olivia McFaul (Lou) led all scorers with 22 each game, the rest coming from multiple players. Most notable was how energized and active, at both ends of the floor, this team is becoming. They are still learning new concepts, and about each other, but their commitment to ‘be better’ is noticeable.
Well deserved wins girls! Great support, as always, from family and friends.