Lady Panthers hosting annual Panther Challenge
NEW GLASGOW – Sixteen teams, three days, one champion.
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
Members of the New Glasgow Junior High girl’s basketball team scrimmage during their practice on Wednesday night at NSCC in preparation for their annual Panther Challenge Basketball Tournament. Play begins at 3 p.m. today with New Glasgow playing Thompson Junior High at North Nova, while Bible Hill plays Mahone Bay at NSCC.
The New Glasgow Junior High Lady Panthers hope they’re the ones raising their home banner at the end of their annual Panther Challenge Basketball Tournament this weekend.
As defending champions after defeating Springhill 46-35 last season, the Panthers hope to win their second straight title and keep the banner at home.
Coach Andy MacKay said the group has been working together for four or five years now and is one of the strongest groups in the province. Their goal this year is to win Division 1 provincials, which is an achievable goal as they have defeated some of the best teams in Metro so far this year. He knows they have lost some of those as well, but the team has shown it is possible.
They have played in a few tournaments so far this season as a bantam team, winning tournaments in Saint John, N.B., and the Annapolis Valley, while finishing second in St. Margaret’s Bay.
“We have some of the best teams from Cape Breton, Metro, P.E.I. and the South Shore coming here this weekend, so it will be a good test for us,” said MacKay. “We won last year, so we hope to defend our title.
“We’re working towards winning the Division 1 provincials and it’s achievable, but there’s still lots of work to do so that we’re consistent.”
MacKay and his co-coach Lyndsay MacKinnon have eight Grade 8 and four Grade 7 players they expect to put forward a great effort this weekend.
Riley Sood leads the team in scoring and was a provincial team representative alongside teammate and fellow Grade 8 Katelyn Biron. Biron recently returned from an ankle injury, but according to MacKay she has returned to where she was before the injury and will provide strength and stability for the team this weekend.
Sabrina Snyder and Hailey Fahie are two of the defensive players the coaches lean on, while also adding an offensive threat that keeps their opponents on their toes. Jordyn MacMillan’s rebounding both offensively and defensively is also crucial to the Panthers game plan.
Rounding out the Grade 8 members of the team are Courtney Smith, Abbie Delaney and Lucia MacKay.
Smith is an athletic player who has become one of their most talented members according to coach MacKay, while Delaney continues to provide consistent guard play. MacKay is a quick playmaker and scrappy defender, who provides leadership through hard work.
Haley Earle is in her first year as a Grade 7, but MacKay said she shoots well and has learned fast, making an impact already with the group.
One of their greatest rebounders is Sarah O’Neil who uses her size to give her team possession as much as possible, while consistently improving her game at practice.
Karielle Floyd and Aliyah Fraser round out the Panthers squad this year. Floyd always fills whatever role the coaches need her to, while staying calm and focused.
Looking at Fraser, MacKay said once some of her skills catch up with her athleticism that she will be a force to be reckoned with.
They open the tournament at 3 p.m. on Friday against Thompson Junior High at North Nova’s gym.
3 p.m. NGJH vs. Thompson Jr. High
6 p.m. NGJH vs. St. Agnes
11:30 a.m. Skills competition at NNEC
5:30 p.m. NGJH vs. Sydney Mines Jr. High
Sunday, Jan. 12
1 p.m. Winner A vs. Winner B Winner C vs. Winner D
2:30 p.m. Second A vs. Second B Second C vs. Second D
4:00 p.m. Winner AB vs. Winner CD Loser AB vs. Loser CD
*All NGJH round-robin games are at North Nova
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris