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Jordan Ercit Photo

Jordan Ercit Photo

The KCI Raiders celebrate their first WCSSAA junior girls basketball championship since 2004 and third since 1979 with a 42-41 overtime win over the previously undefeated Grand River Renegades.

KCI snags coach special anniversary gift

By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff

Court time, clipboards and maybe a bouquet of flowers.

It is how Andrea Mickie spends her anniversary most years as a Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate junior girls basketball and KW Lightning club team coach, pacing the sidelines with one daughter on the floor, the youngest taking stats and husband Colin, a fellow basketball coach, watching from the stands.

This year was no different, as the Mickies celebrated 20 years of marital bliss balanced with basketball at Preston High School in Cambridge on Wednesday.

Except for one thing.

For the first time in four years as Raiders head coach, Andrea Mickie was tugging at her hair and circling the bench in a WCSSAA championship game for the first time.

A bundle of nerves on most nights, Mickie was even more anxious as her underdog Raiders gave the undefeated Grand River Renegades all they could handle.

“I’m ridiculous,” said Mickie, clutching a bouquet of flowers after the game. “I just feel like I’m in the game with them and I just feel every shot that goes up and I wanted it so badly for them, because they have worked so hard.

“They’ve been underdogs the last two or three games, and with their spirit and their teamwork, you want it so badly for them that you can’t sit down and watch the game.

“I can’t help myself.”

And her girls didn’t disappoint.

The third-place Raiders, who in the regular season lost by 21 points to a young and talented Renegades squad with four Grade 9 starters, pulled out a 42-41 overtime victory for their third WCSSAA junior girls basketball title since 1979 and first since 2004.

Frances Campbell, a sharp-passing, smooth-dribbling point guard who only once this season was a top-two scorer for the Raiders in WCSSAA league play, led KCI with eagle-eyed 15 points, including a pair of clutch three-point field goals in the fourth quarter.

Alia Hazineh added 11, while Maya Day had 12 points and Nyamuoch Teny added 10 to lead the Renegades, who lost their first game of the WCSSAA season but move on to the CWOSSA AAAA tournament regardless.

Campbell, a Grade 10 student and club player with the Lightning, said it was a great experience just to be able to play close to the Renegades, who boast a handful of talented first-year high school players in provincial team prospect Tara DeBoer, Day, Teny and Nyasha Mombeshora.

To top them? Well, that was great.

“No one expected us to win, because Grand River had done so well all season,” Campbell said. “But we worked hard all season to do it.

“Everyone put in a great effort and no one person was better than the other. Good passes, great defence, it was really a team effort. If we didn’t practice so hard, we wouldn’t be here.”

Renegades head coach Tolly Henderson said he liked his team’s chances after cutting down an 11-point Raiders lead in the fourth quarter to force overtime at 36-36, “because in games like that they can go either way.”

Grand River even had a chance to win, but a Caroline Lorkovic game-winner fell just short of sealing a Renegades junior girls championship for the first time since 2001.

“If I had to lose to anyone, honestly it would have to be KCI, because I went there,” said Henderson, who played for Raiders assistant coach Allan Haehn. “But it was good for our girls. They battled back and there were plenty of times when we could have given up, but they just kept fighting through it.”

Now both teams are off to CWOSSA today and Saturday. The Renegades will represent Waterloo County at the AAAA tournament in Guelph and Fergus, while the Raiders will battle for the AAA title in Brantford.

That means there will be little time for the Mickies to celebrate their anniversary this weekend, but that’s OK.

They planned ahead just in case.

“It’s a neat family team effort,” Mickie said. “There are often times when we have to be on the court. But we had a little trip before last weekend, so we’re OK.”

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