Lady Spartans take New Brunswick AA basketball title

The Lady Spartans have won St. Stephen’s first girls basketball crown since 2000. (Submitted)

ST. STEPHEN — The Lady Spartans won the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association (NBIAA) girls basketball AA provincial championship, defeating Rothesay Netherwood School 73-67 on Feb. 24 at TD Station in Saint John.

This is the first provincial banner for the girls’ program since 2000.

“It was a proud moment for Spartan basketball and a proud moment for our community. I cannot thank the community enough for their support,” said coach Don Walker. “We had a huge crowd from St. Stephen there, the atmosphere was phenomenal. Once we started to take off in the second half, the crowd just was so into it. It was just an exciting way to finish the season. I was pleased and proud to be a part of it.”

The Lady Spartans avenged last year’s loss in the final game to Rothesay Netherwood, overcoming a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.

“We had an awesome fourth quarter where we outscored them 31-14,” Walker said. “Our first lead, it did come around somewhere between the three and the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter … When we switched defences, it did slow the game down a bit which was to our favour at that time.”

In the second half, Walker said his team was more aggressive offensively.

Leaders included by Beth Harris with 28 points, Aislyn Burns with 23 and Anna Somers with 15.

The Lady Spartans had only 10 turnovers in the game and 53 rebounds, the coach said. Jaycee Calder was a “significant presence” inside, while Anna Gaudette recorded 10 rebounds, he said.

The Spartans had a 26-7 overall record this year and finished first in the Southern Conference with a 10-0 record. The Lady Spartans boast three NBIAA all-stars, Somers, Harris and Burns, while Walker won the NBIAA Peg McAleenan Coach of the Year.

“To be put in that position, you need a lot of things happening and coming together at the same time,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have a good school to play for and be supported by our school, a good group of parents and certainly a good crop of players who understand what we need to do to be successful.”

Over the course of the 2023-24 season, St. Stephen averaged 60.3 points per game, while giving up just 48. Burns and Somers both averaged 15.4 points per game, and Harris 11.5. On the glass, Calder averaged 9.1 rebounds per game, Harris recorded seven boards per game and Somers tallied 6.1.

The Lady Spartans will graduate five players from their championship team in the spring, including Harris and Somers.

“They will be tough shoes to fill,” Walker said. “We’ve got a lot of kids returning, we’ve got a solid JV (junior varsity) program that will provide kids to move up. We have enough kids coming back, the team is going to work hard next ayear to be good and follow a nice tradition … Being AA champions was a goal of ours, for sure and it came true. It was a true testament to the players, their focus, their enthusiasm, and their ability to respond to difficult situations.”

Jake Boudrot

A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and a resident of Arichat, Jake Boudrot is an award-winning journalist with decades of experience as a freelancer, reporter and editor representing media outlets across the Maritimes.