By Jason Malloy
Stefanie Chapman dribbled over half court and tossed the ball into the air as the final buzzer sounded Sunday signalling a women’s basketball conference title for the Axewomen.
“This is the best day of my life,” the guard said during the celebration in Antigonish. “It’s unreal. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Players rushed off the bench to join in the celebration of a 10-point victory over Cape Breton. Teammates embraced one another as they savoured the moment with the sound of Queen’s We Are The Champions ringing through the St. F.X. gym.
During the festivities, Jasmine Parent and Abbey Duinker had a special moment remembering the hard work they have put in over years of playing hoops together.
“We were saying ‘we did it,’ ” Parent explained afterwards.
“This is my last year, I’m all done, and Abbey and I have been playing together since she was 12 years old. Abby, Emma (Duinker), Stef, Lindsay (Harris) and I have all been together for years, years, years.
“Since way before university, since before high school and this is the best feeling we’ve ever had as teammates.”
Acadia defeated Cape Breton 82-72, but the game was closer than the final score showed.
The Axewomen had a 13-point lead in the first quarter but saw it almost evaporate before the half.
“Coach always talks about when we get up early, when you’re doing well and you have momentum, it’s not going to last,” said tournament most valuable player Emma Duinker.
He was right. Cape Breton went on a run late in the second quarter and tied it up with two minutes to go.
“Lindsay’s layup at the end of the half ended that momentum and that was a huge factor,” Duinker said.
Acadia came out blazing in the third quarter, scoring the first eight points to regain the 10-point advantage.
Again the Capers battled back, but Sunday was Acadia’s day.
Chapman, held scoreless in the first half, was called upon to help ice the game late.
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She responded with a couple of big field goals and a foul shot.
“The nerves just kind of went out the door and it was do or die. It came down to all of us hitting big shots at the end,” said the fourth-year guard.
The guard pointed to Emma Duinker, who was with the team the year before she started, as a catalyst for instill a winning attitude.
“She kind of set the groundwork as far as having the mindset of a championship team. This year we came in and said, ‘we’re taking it and we’re not going to settle for anything less’ and we did.”
Coach Bev Greenlaw said it was an “improbable year.
“I don’t think anybody at the first of the year would have picked this group of kids to do anything that they have done. They’re just an amazing group of kids.”
He credited the team’s internal leadership, depth and a family atmosphere for helping it achieve success.
“What our kids have done all year long is respond,” he said.
“That’s the quintessential characteristic of this team, they have character and they respond.”
Greenlaw said the team would take Monday off and be back practicing Tuesday in preparation for nationals.
“The fact we just won the AUS championship is huge,” said Emma Duinker. “It’s not over yet, we still have a big tournament coming up.”
The women’s championship will be held in Calgary from March 17 to 19.
By the numbers:
Player Min FG Pt Reb A B S
Stefanie Chapman 36 2-8 11 6 2 1 1
Kristy Moore 27 3-10 7 2 3 0 1
Abbey Duinker 19 4-12 11 8 1 2 0
Emma Duinker 35 8-20 18 6 5 0 2
Lindsay Harris 38 7-10 18 7 4 0 1
Melissa Gottschall 5 0-1 0 0 0 0 1
Rita Leila Sibo 16 1-1 4 2 3 0 0
Jasmine Parent 21 6-11 13 6 0 0 0
Carlie MacDonald 2 0-0 0 0 0 0 0
Team 1 2 3 4 Final
CBU 10 22 20 20 72
ACA 20 14 24 24 82