TORONTO, Ont. — Sunday was a historic day for women’s basketball in Canada.
In total, 24 of the best women’s high school basketball players from across the country took to the court inside the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport on the campus of the University of Toronto. For the first time in its five-year history, the BioSteel All-Canadian Basketball Games featured the top women’s talent from coast to coast.
Sunday’s schedule began with the Women’s Showcase game, and the players put on a show for the fans in attendance from the opening tip. Seven of the women who took part in the game had committed to Division I schools in the NCAA, while another two will be taking their talents to U Sports programs when their respective high school careers come to a close.
What started out as an even game quickly turned in favour of Team White, as they used a balanced offensive attack to notch a big 112-78 win over Team Red. All 12 players recorded at least two points in the win for Team White, and their lead was never in serious jeopardy from the second quarter through to the final buzzer.
The women who took part in the game were able to learn from two of the best women’s basketball coaches in the country. Toronto Varsity Blues Head Coach Michele Belanger led Team White on the afternoon, while reigning National Champion and McMaster Marauders bench boss Theresa Burns assumed the role as Head Coach of Team Red.
Brynn Masikewich (Calgary, Alta.) and Rebecca Demeke (Toronto, Ont.) took on a starring role to help guide Team White to their convincing victory. Masikewich was held without a point in the opening half, but erupted for 12 points in the third quarter before finishing the day with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Masikewich, the sister of Saskatchewan Huskies‘ star Summer Masikewich, will be taking her talents south of the border with the UCLA Bruins next season. The Calgary native was also named Team White’s MVP for her performance in the win.
Not to be outdone, Demeke had herself a strong game on both ends of the floor. The 5’10” guard from Crestwood Prep finished the day with 12 points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals while shooting 5-of-13 from the floor. Demeke did most of her damage in the first half, recording nine of her 12 points in the first two quarters.
Team White seized control of the game from the outset and never looked back. They held a nine-point lead after the first quarter, 20-11, and their lead only grew from there. At the half, Team White pushed their lead to 20 points, at 49-29, and the rout was on. White outscored Red in every quarter, expanding their lead with each passing frame to roll to victory.
Despite the loss, the best performance of the day came from Team Red guard Merissah Russell (Ottawa, Ont.). The Louisville Cardinals commit recorded a double-double despite defeat, posting 30 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. Russell added three steals, and was 11-of-25 from the field on the afternoon. Without question, she was the best player on the floor throughout Sunday’s contest, and Louisville fans have to be happy about what’s to come from Russell when the Class of 2020 guard joins the Cardinals.
If there was any doubt, Russell was named MVP for Team Red after her standout double-double performance.
Ten of Team Red’s 12 players recorded at least two points in the win, meaning 22 of the 24 women who took part in the event found the bottom of the basket. Sammie Martin (Sudbury, Ont.) was held without a point for Team Red, but pulled down eight rebounds in limited action.
While the game itself wasn’t overly close, some of the top women’s basketball players in Canada got to showcase their talents in front of a national audience through TSN. With a lot of younger girls in attendance watching the talent on the court, the 24 athletes served as great role models for the next generation of basketball talent in Canada.
Sunday was a big step for women’s basketball in Canada, and each and every woman who took part in the event made it a huge success.
– T. Bennett