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Vanier falls to Meadow Lake in 4A girls gold medal game in absolute barnburner

Spirits overcome 10-point half-time deficit and take late lead but fall 57-54 in championship game

With the way things were going for the Vanier Spirits early in their SHSAA 4A girls basketball provincial gold medal game, it would have been easy to just decide it wasn’t their night and let the chips fall where they may.

Despite playing in their own gym, the Spirits just couldn’t get shots to fall in the first half and had difficulty dealing with Meadow Lake’s aggressive defence, eventually finding themselves down 27-17 at the break.

But things suddenly changed in the third quarter, and Vanier started bringing the rain.

Long-range shots started to fall, and their defence held at the other end of the court. All of a sudden they were within a pair, and with 6:50 to play, they took a 45-44 lead, the first time they were up all game.

That set the stage for a tense five minutes of basketball, as Vanier held their two-point edge until 1:12 remained when Meadow Lake’s Sienna Andersen scored her 22nd point of the game to tie things 54-54. The Spartans then got a clutch basket from Callie Timmer with 35 seconds to play, and a free throw by Deena Rediron in the final seconds finished things off.

Final score, Meadow Lake 57, Vanier 54 in one of the best girls' basketball games of the season.

“It was incredible and we wanted it so bad,” said Andersen, who just happens to be joining the Briercrest College Clippers out in Caronport next fall. “We’ve been to Hoopla a few times and just couldn’t pull it off, so it was really exciting. Everyone really contributed today, we played well as a team and came away with it.”

Spartans coach Kendra Paramchuk pointed to a season-long ability to grind through games and find wins as a key to their gold medal success.

“It was awesome, it was such a good game,” she said. “We went into the game talking about how if everyone plays really well today with heart and grit, it was our game. Everyone took their roles seriously today, too. They were cheering each other on even when we were up by 10 and down by four. Then our seniors stepped up when we needed them and we came out as provincial champions.”

Vanier senior Kate Waldenberger had the hottest hand of all in the second half, scoring 20 of her game-high 24 points in the final 20 minutes and putting down five threes in the process.

Waverley Demassi also hit double digits with 11 points. 

Even with the loss, Spirits coach Christa Lapointe was almost beaming with pride at what her team nearly pulled off.

“It’s great to get to the gold medal game and I’m very proud of all the girls for putting it out there,” she said. “They’ve been taught the last three years that as long as you can keep the game to 10-15, anything is possible. Our girls know that, so even though they’re down they never quit. Even though it didn’t work out, they left everything on the floor. That’s what you want from a provincial championship game.”

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