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Valley girls win D1 U18 title at basketball tournament in Halifax

Back Row (left to right) Coach Rick MacKenzie, Sarah Parsons, Lauren Hainstock, Olivia Andrews, Coach Fred Cumby, Aidan MacLeod, Kerensa Johnson. Front Row (left to right) Tannis Palmer, Vanessa Vaughan, Brynna MacKenzie, Danielle Cumby. - Submitted
Back Row (left to right) Coach Rick MacKenzie, Sarah Parsons, Lauren Hainstock, Olivia Andrews, Coach Fred Cumby, Aidan MacLeod, Kerensa Johnson. Front Row (left to right) Tannis Palmer, Vanessa Vaughan, Brynna MacKenzie, Danielle Cumby. - Submitted - Contributed

HALIFAX, N.S. – A varied collection of Annapolis Valley high school girls’ basketball players came together this holiday season to capture the U18 Division One title in the annual SLAM Christmas Classic Basketball Tournament in Halifax.

Eight local players from Grade 9 to Grade 12 entered the tournament together as the Junior Axewomen and went undefeated, ending with a close 61-59 win over the Colchester Tigers in the championship game Dec. 30.

“This event served as a great development opportunity for the players that competed. Lots of floor time and freedom to simply play. We went on a number of scoring runs at times which helped cover up many of the performance mistakes that come with high-tempo freedom,” said head coach Fred Cumby.

“When we combined a high compete level, with our skill level complimented with sound decision making, I felt we put on an entertaining show for those in attendance.”

Leading to the championship game, the Axewomen defeated the Tigers 57-56 in the first game, and went on to defeat the Bedford Eagles 76-37, and the St. Margarets Bay SLAM 75-43, to face the Tigers again in the finals.

Awards for Player of the Game went to Lauren Hainstock in the first and third games, Aidan MacLeod in the second, and Brynna MacKenzie in the final. Heart and Hustle awards went to Olivia Andrews in the first and final games, Brynna MacKenzie in the second game, and Danielle Cumby in the third.

The players came from Horton High School, Northeast Kings Education Centre, and Avon View High School, and many had never played together before. The team was simply formed to give the girls a chance to sharpen their skills and build on their performance over the holiday break.

“We started the tournament not really knowing each other and what we could do on the court,” said Grade 9 NKEC student, Lauren Hainstock.

“But we really came together quickly and played well as a team.”

“I think as individual players we all have our talents and moments throughout the game,” added Grade 9 Horton student, Brynna MacKenzie.

“But in the end it really came down to how well we could play together, I think that really showed in the championship game.”

Playing in the U18 division, many of the younger players on the Axewomen faced older and more experienced players. However, the competition level was not a challenge for these players that have been on the court since elementary school.

“I loved playing with some new girls because it brought new skills to the team and really helped with our success,” said Grade 9 Horton student, Danielle Cumby.

The SLAM Christmas Classic Basketball Tournament brings together over 1,000 players from across the Province with seven different locations hosting 168 games from December 28-30.

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