NEW GLASGOW – This weekend the New Glasgow Junior High Lady Panthers will host their annual Panther Challenge at both the Pictou County Wellness Centre YMCA gym and North Nova Education Centre.
The team has been extremely successful so far this season, boasting a 24-7 record. The team has also won tournaments in Springhill, Summerside, Hebbville and Brookfield, while finishing second in the junior high school tournament in Glace Bay.
Head coach Andy MacKay said last week during practice that although the team is young that they are very strong. He said their success comes from the hard work from the players and their ability to work well together.
The team has five Grade 9 players, but two, Shalena Floyd and Caitrin Skelton, have been with the team for three years. Coach MacKay said Floyd is looked to for her shooting touch, while Skelton is a great all around player.
“With size, skill and experience Shalena has a great future in front of her,” she said. “Caitrin is our ‘everything’ player. She usually draws our tough defence assignments, rebounds, hustles and provides us with energy at both ends of the court.”
Also in Grade 9, but in their second year with the team, Annik Leger and Jordon Landry are looked to as leaders as well, both on and off the court.
“Annik is a vocal leader on the team and popular with her teammates,” said MacKay. “She works hard and provides us with strong ball handling, outside shooting and tough defence. Jordan, our Gazelle, is a swift, smooth player who can get down the court in a hurry. She has improved a lot in the second half of the season.“
The final senior on the team, Jennifer Corkum, is in her first year with the Panthers. MacKay said she is on of the players looking for hustle and is an important component down low for rebounding and defending.
Christena Sava is the lone Grade 8 on the team, bringing great speed on the floor. Assistant coach Lyndsay MacKinnon said Sava has great potential and has been working hard to improve her game this season.
Rounding out the team are six Grade 7 players in Riley Sood, Lucia MacKay, Kaitlyn Biron, Abbie Delaney, Hailey Fahie and Courtney Smith. Sood may be young, but currently leads the team in scoring.
“She is very mature for her age,” said MacKinnon. “Riley welcomes all challenges and always wants the ball. She constantly works on her game and has great things ahead.”
MacKay is key to the team’s playmaking, making smart and important passes with her ability to read the court well. Smith and Biron are both well-rounded players for the Panthers, looked to as leaders at both ends of the court. Coach MacKay said both are improving and contributing well to the team in their first year.
Fahie, also in Grade 7, has been strong offensively for the Panthers according to MacKay.
“She’s a knock down shooter,” he said. “She has that great shooting touch and doesn’t hesitate to shoot. She also brings a great knack for defence and steals.”
Rounding out their youthful talent is Delaney. The coaching staff said she has come far since the beginning of the season and will continue to be important for the next few years to the Panthers.
“She’s a smooth player who is always improving,” he said. “Abbie has recently turned a corner and is showing signs of really understanding the game. She has good scoring touch and ball handling skill.”
This weekend’s tournament gets underway with the Panthers first game at North Nova Education Centre against Malcolm Munroe at 4:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m. New Glasgow vs. Malcolm Munroe (NNEC)
4:00 p.m. West Hants vs. Bridgewater (YMCA)
5:30 p.m. Whitney Pier Memorial vs. Lockeport (NNEC)
5:30 p.m. Hebbville vs. Queen Charlotte
7:00 p.m. New Glasgow vs. West Hants (NNEC)
7:00 p.m. Bridgewater vs. Malcolm Munroe (YMCA)
8:30 p.m. Lockeport vs. Hebbville (NNEC)
8:30 p.m. Whitney Pier Memorial vs. Queen Charlotte (YMCA)
9:00 a.m. Queen Charlotte vs. Lockeport (NNEC)
9:00 a.m. West Hants vs. Malcolm Munroe (YMCA)
10:30 a.m. New Glasgow vs. Bridgewater (NNEC)
10:30 a.m. Whitney Pier Memorial vs. Hebbville (YMCA)
1:00 p.m. Semifinals at YMCA and NNEC
2:30 p.m. Bronze medal game (NNEC)
4:00 p.m. Championship game (NNEC)