The Thunder women’s basketball team came home with much more than just a bronze medal from a sick weekend at the OCAA Women’s Basketball Provincial Championships at Centennial College from Mar. 5-7.
The Thunder were ravaged by a stomach bug that seemed to go through each team with indiscriminate devastation. Players, coaches, and even reporters succumbed to this nasty bug.
Unfortunately for the Thunder, second-highest scorer and fifth-year senior Lindsay Whittaker was forced out of action due to this stomach virus.
Whittaker fell ill during the second quarter of the Thunder’s heartbreaking loss to the eventual champions, the Humber Hawks and was forced to finish her OCAA career watching from the bench.
“It’s unfortunate for her,” said Thunder head coach Laura Bond, who also succumbed to the stomach ailment. “She really wanted to play and that was a heavy loss for us not having her.”
However, the Thunder didn’t just lose Whittaker. Algonquin had to play the first of two Saturday games without Amoney Abakar, Nyaguande Gathoth, and Samantha Highgate who were all sick in their hotel rooms.
Fortunately for Algonquin, the trio were able to play in the Thunder’s final game alongside Francesca Belleheumer-Moya, who played both of Saturday’s games fighting through a bout of nausea.
“I feel like the whole team was really sick,” said Belleheumer-Moya. “I think we really pulled through and we’re all really happy with that.”
Algonquin also had to regroup quickly from their 58-55 loss to Humber, which meant that their four year reign as OCAA Women’s Basketball champions would come to an end.
The whole team was extremely emotional after the game as many players left the locker room in tears.
“Most of the tears were related to our fifth-year kids,” said Bond. “It wasn’t tears about the game itself. Everybody knows we worked hard, our shots just didn’t fall and that’s not necessarily something you can control.”
But the Thunder had no time to feel sorry for themselves as they had to turn right around and play Fanshawe in the bronze semi-final, Saturday morning at 10 a.m.
The Thunder didn’t have their best start but we’re still able to get themselves into the bronze medal game with a 64-48 win.
“We allowed last night to be an opportunity for us to feel bad about ourselves,” said Bond. “We’ve prepped for Fanshawe like we’ve prepped for everybody else and I think that helped to throw us right back into our routine.”
Algonquin would have one more hurdle to get over in the form of East Division rivals, the St. Lawrence Vikings. Both teams went 15-1 with each team’s single loss coming against each other.
Thunder Captain dominated, scoring 35 points in the Thunder’s bronze medal clinching 78-45 victory against a shorthanded Vikings team that also had players succumbed to the infamous stomach illness.
The game would also mark the end of Mazerolle’s impressive OCAA career. She was named a tournament all-star to go along with her regular-season all-star selection and defensive player of the year award.
“It’s the last game of my basketball career,” said Mazerolle. “I just felt like I had to leave it all on the floor. My knee was hurting pretty bad, but I had to suck it up and give it all I had.”
But for the Thunder, getting the bronze medal was much better than coming home empty handed.
“It’s definitely not the colour we wanted,” said Bond. “For us it’s better to finish with a win than with a loss. It’s still a little disappointing but all of the girls are in good spirits and for me that’s what it’s all about.”