Saints take Owls rookies to school

Joey Payeur

Its jerseys are blue but the Rainy River Owls’ junior girls’ basketball team is extremely green.
Just one of the 13 players on the roster is in Grade 10, meaning it mostly was a cast of first-time high school competitors that took the floor against the seasoned St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) in the NorWOSSA ‘A’ regular-season opener for both squads Monday at RRHS.
The result was a not surprising 33-11 victory for the Saints.
“They’re all very athletic girls,” Owls’ coach Nicole Armstrong said about her wide array of rookies.
“Once I figure out which position they all belong in, they’ll really be able to learn their position better,” she noted.
“They’re all still pretty fresh,” Armstrong added. “We’re doing a zone defence and it’s all new to them.
“On our man-to-man defence, they tend to bunch up, so we have to teach them how to space themselves out.”
Mackenzie Turner had eight points to pace the Saints, with Alyssa Turcotte netting seven and Kayleen Desbiens six.
Taytum Stone, the only veteran among the host of newcomers, led the Owls with four points.
Kirsten Armstrong and Katelyn Brown had three apiece.
“[Stone] didn’t even play that much at the end of last year because she was injured,” Armstrong noted.
“She’s definitely a leader for them.”
The cast of fresh faces also includes Ireland Blakeney, Avery and Olivia Kreger, Taya Hagarty, Micaela Jolicouer, Naomi Carradice, Madison Talbot, Erika Gerula, Keira Govier, and Mackenzie Whetzel, who missed Monday’s game due to illness.
The Saints used their fast break to run up a 12-0 lead in the first quarter before Kirsten Armstrong sank a free throw with 38 seconds left for the Owls’ lone point of the frame.
The visitors then allowed only one field goal in the second quarter while getting a host of free-throw opportunities from the foul-prone Owls to lead 21-3 at halftime.
They ratcheted up the defence further, shutting out the Owls throughout the second half before Brown made a lay-up with 5:30 to go.
Armstrong expected her team to find its rhythm with more games and practices under its belt.
“I just hope the first game to the last game will look very different,” she remarked.
The Owls hosted the Red Lake Rams yesterday (score unavailable at press time).
The team’s next league action is set for Oct. 3 against the visiting Ignace Falcons.