© Nancy Kelly
The bantam girls Division 1 basketball provincials, held March 28-30 at Horton High School, drew an enthusiastic crowd. From left, Lauren Hainstock, Danielle Cumby, Ashley Davis, Molly Steadman and Abby Mercer cheered on the host Valley Axewomen. – Nancy Kelly, www.kingscountynews.ca
The Valley Junior Axewomen capped an impressive 2013-2014 season by capturing the Basketball Nova Scotia D-1 bantam girls’ provincial championship March 30 on their home court at Horton High School.
The Junior Axewomen were the only team in the six-team tournament to finish undefeated at 4-0 after their 56-35 win over St. Margaret’s Bay Slam in the final.
Meghan MacLeod led the way offensively for the Junior Axewomen with 17 points in the final, while tournament MVP Talia Boutilier added 13.
On day one of the tournament on March 28, top-seeded Pictou Countyopened with a 44-37 win over St. Margaret’s Bay, and ABA Celtics also started strong with a 55-48 win over East Preston, the Metro League regular season champions.
On March 29, Pictou County took on Halifax Osprey and ended up on the short end of a 56-47 score.
The Junior Axewomen scored a 57-41 win over ABA Celtics in its first tournament action. Boutilier and MacLeod finished with 16 points each for the Axewomen, while Hannah Fuller also reached double figures with 13 points.
St. Margaret’s Bay broke into the win column with a 52-39 win over Osprey. The Junior Axewomen then took on East Preston and won 49-27, holding East Preston to just 11 points in the first half.
Boutilier led the Axewomen scoring with 15 points, and MacLeod added 10. Abbie Fox contributed nine, Fuller seven and Claire Belliveau five.
In the cross-over semifinals March 30, the first game featured St. Margaret’s Bay, the top team in Pool 1, against ABA Celtics, the second place team in Pool 2, with the winner advancing to the final. St. Margaret’s Bay scored a 57-46 victory.
The Junior Axewomen, first in their pool, met Pictou County in the other semifinal. Pictou County had split its round robin games, beating St. Margaret’s Bay and then being upset by Osprey, the #6 seed. All three teams in Pool 1 ended up with 1-1 records.
The Junior Axewomen, meanwhile, entered their semifinal at 2-0, and improved to 3-0 – and advanced to the final – with a 47-31 win over Pictou County.
Boutilier again led the way offensively with 18 points. She was supported by an all-round team effort, though Fuller was the only other player to reach double figures in scoring with 13 points.
In the fifth-place game, East Preston outlasted Osprey by a 42-37 score. Pictou County then outscored ABA Celtics 58-49 to claim third.
In addition to Boutilier being named tournament MVP, Meghan MacLeod and Hannah Fuller were first-team all-stars and Abbey Fox and Sara Cumby both were picked to the second-all-star team.
Since October, the Junior Axewomen bantam team are 27-3-1.
"Our play this past weekend energized girls' basketball as a whole and left parents, supporters, the coaches and ultimately the players, with a very satisfying feeling," said Fred Cumby, one of the Junior Axewomen coaches.
"It's a goal of our program to leave the gym with a feeling of satisfaction that all we do is left on the gym floor at every opportunity. We just try to compete, and hold ourselves to that standard."
The team, he said, competed hard all weekend.
“It looked good, and it felt good. Our success in achieving the provincial banner is a nice compliment, but even if we had missed, we would still have left the gym with our heads up and ready to compete again."