SUMMERSIDE - Nikki Arsenault’s shoulders hunched to her neck as she leaned over, hands on her knees, and sweat dripping to the court.
© Ryan Cooke/Journal Pioneer
It was that kind of day for Nikki Arsenault. Athena's star player was double (and sometimes triple) covered all game long, keeping her to 13 points, as Stonepark downed the Hawks 62-27 to capture the PEISAA Midget Female AA title.
For the first time since the opening tip off, she could stand still and take a deep breath.
It was not the way she wanted the season to end for her Athena Hawks AA Girls team, however. Despite her best efforts, they fell 62-27 to the Stonepark Tigers in the PEISAA final.
On the other hand, it was exactly the game the Tigers were looking for.
“We played great defense and focused on their two main players, Nikki and Katrina (Martin),” said head coach Jason MacDonald. “We did a good job limiting their effectiveness, and we played really well.”
The Hawks found themselves behind on the scoreboard the whole way, taking a 38-14 deficit into the second half.
The scoreboard did nothing to deflate the Hawks, however, as they controlled the pace for the majority of the third quarter. Time of possession and rebounding stats were well in their favour, however their inability to make good on chances limited them to a 46-18 Tigers lead.
With less than three minutes to go in the third quarter, play picked up as Arsenault controlled the ball deep in the Tigers’ end. After getting a shot away at the shot clock buzzer, she collected her own rebound and threw up another shot. After that missed, Martin picked up another offensive rebound and drove the hoop, drawing a foul. She’d connect on both shots before Taylor MacDonald answered back with a pair of her own. Arsenault, zoned in now, stripped the ball off MacDoanld on the ensuing play and cruised in for to layup two of her 13 points, and close out the third quarter.
Stonepark’s defense kept the Hawks outside the key in the fourth, however, forcing them to continuously wear down the shot clock before taking outside shots.
Stonepark added another 14 points in the final frame to go on to victory. It’s one they’ve been working all season for, said Taylor, the team's co-captain.
“We’ve put in so much effort this season, practicing six nights a week all year. It feels good to have it pay off.”
MacDonald echoed his player, thanking them for their devotion to the team all season.
“A tremendous amount of hard work goes into it, from all our coaches and our players especially,” coach MacDonald said. “Their dedication is what makes our season go.”
Moving forwards, it’s an experience they’ll remember.
“It’s really rewarding for it to end like this for the kids,” the coach said. “They get the win, and we all get to take home a banner as well.”