Basketball Elite Amateur Sport

HIGH ACHIEVERS WEEKEND WRAP: Captain Merissah Russell key contributor to Canada’s basketball gold medal

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Before last week, Merissah Russell’s final basketball game played in Canada was truly memorable.

Named to play in the first-ever BioSteel All Canadian Girls’ Basketball Game for the top players across the country, the Capital Courts Academy graduate was named the match’s MVP, scoring 30 points, collecting 10 rebounds and adding three steals.

That was in 2019 in Toronto.

Almost 40 months later, Russell was back in Toronto, but this time she was sharing the spotlight and serving as Team Canada captain at GLOBL Jam, an international men’s and women’s U23 basketball showcase for eight countries.

The University of Louisville Cardinals’ junior also came away from this experience feeling like a winner as Canada won five straight games (three round-robin, two playoff) to capture the GLOBL Jam women’s gold medal.

Canada defeated France 78-60 in the championship game on Sunday, after rolling past the United States 85-60 in the semifinals. In the round-robin, Canada defeated Belgium 65-53, the U.S. 78-69 and France 73-56.

Russell, a guard who earlier this year played for Canada in a World Cup women’s qualifier in Osaka, Japan, started all five games and had a commendable stats sheet overall.


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She averaged more than 28 minutes, 12.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists a game. When she wasn’t involved with the offense, Russell contributed with a handful of defensive steals and blocked shots.

“It’s amazing,” Russell told CBC Sports. “The biggest thing for me, I was so excited to play in front of my parents, because it’s been so long because of COVID. They haven’t seen me play and a lot of people can’t watch us play on the [college] network. It’s just difficult to do so.

“We talked about it: None of us have ever played on home court wearing Canada, right? So it’s just amazing, we’re so prideful, and we got the ‘dub’ and I’m so excited.”

She added: “I’m so excited for the future of women’s basketball in Canada because this is just the beginning.”

Meanwhile, Canada, 1-1, will be looking for a win Tuesday in its scheduled final round-robin game against Egypt, 1-1, at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Debregen, Hungary.

In its first two games, Canada lost 60-57 to Spain, but rebounded to turn back Korea 92-58.

Small forward Cassandre Prosper of Capital Courts Academy is playing a vital role for Canada. In her first two games, Prosper has averaged more than 25 minutes, 14.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.5 steals a game.

Ottawa’s Noah Kirkwood has played his first two games of professional basketball, after being signed by the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets as a post-draft free agent.

In his first two games with the Nets in the NBA’s Summer League, which is based in Las Vegas, Kirkwood, who formerly played at Harvard University, averaged 14:23 minutes, 5.5 points and 3.0 rebounds. The Nets opened their summer schedule for drafted and young players losing 94-90 to Milwaukee Bucks, but defeating Philadelphia 76ers 91-84.

CHRISTOPHER PERKINS ON TARGET FOR WORLD GAMES BRONZE

Archer Christopher Perkins of Athens, ON., won the bronze medal Sunday in the men’s singles compound class at the World Games for non-Olympic, competitive sports in Birmingham, Alabama.

Perkins, who qualified second with a score of 713 points and was made the second seed in the bracket competition, defeated Abhishek Verma of India 148-145 for his third-place showing.

He lost his semifinal to Mexico’s Miguel Becerra 147-145. In his previous two matches, he defeated Lukasz Przybylski of Poland 148-145 in the quarterfinals and James Lutz of the United States 148-146 in the round of 16.

NEPEAN-KANATA BARRACUDAS THIRD AT SUMMER ONTARIO MEET

Julie Brousseau, Jordan Schaepper and Yuto Lee were the major reasons why the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas placed third in the club standings at the Summer Ontario swimming championships in Toronto.

The Barracudas finished with 1,228.5 points, while Etobicoke Swimming was first at 2,887 and Markham Aquatic Club took second at 2,014.5. Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club was 12th at 575, while ROCS Swimming took 28th out of 61 clubs at 152.

Brousseau was non-stop action as she won medals in all six of her individual races in the women’s 16-and-over division as well as three women’s 15-and-over relay medals.

Individually, she won the 200-metre breaststroke (2:31.46) and the 400-metre freestyle (4:17.31), was second in the 800-metre freestyle (8:58.19) and the 200-metre freestyle (2:00.65) and finished third in the 200-metre butterfly (2:16.93) and the 200-metre individual medley (2:16.07).

As for the relays. Brousseau swam the anchor leg to help the Barracudas win the women’s 15-and-older 400-metre medley, place second in the 800-metre freestyle and capture third in the 400-metre freestyle.

Schaepper was called to the medal podium seven times, after his strong performances in the men’s 15-year-old division. He won the 400-metre individual medley (4:49.86) and the 200-metre butterfly (2:14.79) and was runner-up in the 200-metre individual medley (2:14.74).

His bronze-medal efforts came in the 200-metre breaststroke, (2:36.79), 200-metre freestyle (1:59.97), 1,500-metre freestyle (17:00.56) and 400-metre freestyle (4:18.93).

Lee was a notable men’s 14-and-under swimmer with two wins and three second-place results.

He was first in the 200-metre breaststroke (2:27.16) and the 400-metre individual medley (4:53.38). He earned silver medals in 100-metre butterfly (1:00.16), 100-metre breaststroke (1:08.44) and 200-metre individual medley (2:15.40).

Jacob Pawlak of the Barracudas was first in the men’s 15-year-old class 200-metre breaststroke (2:33.06) and second in the 100-metre breaststroke (1:11.92).

The Kingfish received its best performances from women’s 16-and-over athletes Ashley McMillan and Regan Rathwell.

McMillan was a triple champion – 100-metre backstroke (1:00.89), 100-metre butterfly (1:00.29) and 200-metre individual medley (2:13.01). She also was second in the 100-metre freestyle (55.96).

Rathwell won the 200-metre backstroke (2:12.17) and was the silver medallist in the 100-metre breaststroke (1:10.36) and the 400-metre individual medley (4:47.57).

McMillan and Rathwell also combined with Vivian Partridge and Annika Hollo for silver-medal results in the women’s 15-and-over 200-metre freestyle relay. Hollo was a double bronze medallist in the women’s 13-and-under class in the 100-metre freestyle (1:00.85) and the 200-metre individual medley (2:33.05).

Olivier Risk was the top swimmer for ROCS as he was won the men’s 16-and-over 400-metre freestyle (4:08.20) and was runner-up in the 800-metre freestyle (8:33.04) and the 400-metre individual medley (4:42.63).

MISSISSIPPI GOLFER RALLIES FOR FIFTH PLACE AT PROVINCIALS

Ellis Kinnaird of the Mississippi Golf Club recovered from a miserable start to the 100th Ontario junior men’s golf championship at the Timberwolf Golf Club in Sudbury and earned a top-five showing.

He opened the 72-hole tournament by going par, bogey, triple bogey and double bogey, but he was steady for the rest of the round to finish at six-over-par 78. For the next three rounds, he improved each day and rallied to finish fifth overall as one of only six under-par golfers at minus-two 286.

Kinnaird capped the provincial championship with a five-under 67, after posting scores of 72-69 in the second and third rounds respectively. In his final round, he marked seven birdies against two bogeys and nine pars. After each round, he walked off the course with a smile as he birdied the 18th hole each day.

Oscar Feschuk of the Weston Golf and Country Club entered the final round trailing by three strokes, but won by three as his overall scorecard read 71-69-67-69 for a 12-under 276. Cameron Pero of Picton was second at 68-68-68-76-280.

David Lafreniere of the Ottawa Hunt tied for 10th place at 69-77-73-73 for a four-over 292, while Max Corcoran of Loch March tied for 22nd at 75-75-76-74 for a 12-over 300.

RIDEAU VIEW CONTINUES TO RULE AT OVGA INTERSECTIONALS

When it comes to men’s competitive golf in the Ottawa Valley Golf Association, the top two clubs continue to be Rideau View and the Ottawa Hunt.

It has been like that for the past 20 years.

For the 14th time in the last two decades, Rideau View won the OVGA’s men’s class A Intersectionals on its home course with 44 points. The Hunt was a close second at 37, while Royal Ottawa was third at 28 and Rivermead placed a class-demoting fourth at 11.

Josh Goheen, Mark MacKay, Caelan Sammy, Skyler Sicoli and Darren White scored the maximum six points for defending champion Rideau View by winning their matches against their three opponents.

The other members of the Rideau View team were Brady Atchison, Chris Collins, Mike Mallette, Dan Ryan, Owen Walsh, alternates David Bourada and Tim Sullivan and captain John Radmore.

Chris Bockstael, Patrick Goodhue and Brent Rebus were six-point scorers for the Hunt, which has won the class A title six times in the past 20 years.

By its fourth-place finish, Rivermead will drop into class B in 2023 and will be replaced by Carleton Golf and Yacht Club, which won a back-and-forth, class B battle with host Camelot. Carleton emerged with 41 points, while Camelot had 38, Prescott counted 21 and Hylands finished at 20.

Skyler O’Donnel, Dominik Coyle and John Henry Macdonald counted six points each for Carleton. The other six-point scorers were Alex Murray, Steve Murray and Tyler Stone for Camelot, and Adam Searle for Hylands.

SECOND-PLACE RESULT FOR CARLETON PLACE EQUESTRIAN TEAM

Carleton Place’s Frank Hendriks rode Checkin Me Out to a second-place showing Sunday to conclude the first of two weeks of equestrian show-jumping competition during the Ottawa Summer Tournament at Wesley Clover Parks.

Hendriks qualified for the three rider-horse jump-off in the $10,000 Brookstreet Hotel Modified Grand Prix. Despite having the third-best time over the shortened course at 48.74 seconds, he didn’t have any knockdowns and had zero faults.

Lauren Esdale of Seagrave, ON., won the jump-off with a clean ride in 47.81, but MacKenzie Wray of Loretto, ON., placed third with eight-fault points in 47.01.

Paul Halpern of Saint Anne des Plaines, Que., and Esra won the featured $50,000 Steel-Craft Grand Prix on Saturday, completing the jump-off with one rail knockdown in 44.16. François Lamontagne and Thunderbird vh Scheefkasteel Z qualified for the jump-off, but voluntarily withdrew from the jump-off.

Kelley Robinson of Russell, ON., and Blue’s Yer Daddy were fourth overall with four faults.

In Thursday’s $20,000 Giant Tiger Open Welcome, Lamontagne won the competition for the third time with Chanel du Calvaire and also was third riding Scheefkasteel Z.

Hyde Moffatt of Brantford filled the remaining spots in the top five as he was second with Amalia, fourth on Jeffrey Jarden and fifth with Donjo.

The top six places were decided by a jump-off.

Robinson and Blue’s Yer Daddy were 11th.

SOUTH OTTAWA BLUES SECOND IN ONTARIO LITTLE LEAGUE FINAL

The South Ottawa Blues were feeling just that after losing the Ontario Little League Baseball senior final 11-2 to the host Oakville Whitecaps.

The Blues qualified for the final of the four-team provincial championship with a 1-2 record. East Nepean Eagles were fourth at 0-3.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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