The 2016 Women’s International Friendly Tournament in Lake Placid, New York — hosted from June 23-25 — can be summed up as a deflating experience for the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team.
Canada fell twice to Great Britain, Germany and the United States to finish the tourney with an 0-6 record.
Team Canada’s last place finish at this event is startling considering this club won the last world championship in 2014, and earned a silver medal at the 2015 Parapan American Games (both tournaments were hosted in Toronto).
Also, it has only been two weeks since Canada finished a respectable second place, with a 4-2 record, at a prior friendly tournament hosted at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid.
While their winless record itself is troubling, what compounds the problem is that none of the defeats were close — Canada lost by double digits in every single one of their games.
This tournament began for Canada with a 54-41 defeat at the hands of Germany, the defending Paralympic champions. Gesche Schunemann led her team to the win with a double-double, potting 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Rosalie Lalonde (Montreal, Que.) led Canada with 12 points.
It appeared like Canada was going to bounce back in their second game of opening day, as a quick start powered them to a eight-point lead over Great Britain. However, the Brits went on a second half surge to win the game 52-39. Great Britain had three players with double-digit nights on the scoreboard: Amy Conroy led the way with 17 points, Helen Freeman had 15 points and Judith Miller chipped in 12 points. Two-time Paralympian Cindy Ouellet led the Canadian women with 13 points.
Team U.S.A.’s offence decimated Team Canada on Friday morning. The Americans shot an astounding 66 per cent from the floor en route to a 86-45 blowout decision over their North American rivals. Rose Hollermann starred for the U.S. by scoring 35 points (17-for-23).
Canada’s second loss to Germany came on Friday night. Heike Friedrich scored 12 points, and Barbara Gross added 10, to lead the No.2 ranked team in the world to a 52-37 win.
Once again, a dominant second half made the difference in Great Britain’s 70-50 win over Canada on Saturday morning. There were several lead changes in this game where the score was tied at 42-42 at one point. Conroy and Freeman both scored 14 points to propel Great Britain to the victory.
In their tournament-closing game, Canada was once again victimized by a dominant American offence. Team U.S.A shot 52 per cent from the floor, while Canada only shot 29 per cent. Becca Murray (27 points) and Hollermann (20 points) combined for 47 points to help America cruise to a 69-32 triumph. Arinn Young (Legal, Alta.) led Canada with 13 points.
Germany and U.S.A finished in first place with identical 5-1 records, and Great Britain concluded the tournament 3-3.
The Canadian women will have an opportunity for redemption at the 2016 Women’s World Super Cup in Frankfurt, Germany. This event begins on July 13.
Photo: Dan Galbraith/Canadian Paralympic Committee