Sir James Dunn Academy Girls basketball team reflects on season and first league win in 10 years

Kate Scott/Courier Amelia Welch of the Sir James Dunn Academy Algonquins girls basketball team dribbles up the court during the team's final home game Friday.

Algonquins reflect on season; first league win in more than 10 years

Saint Andrews – When the Sir James Dunn Academy Algonquins hit the floor in the team’s final league game Friday, it was loud.

A great deal of support turned out – believed to be the biggest Algonquins crowd at a basketball game in at least five years.

It was an emotional send off for four seniors, Erin Clarke, Emily Ross, Cullen Johnson, and Megan Cross, as well as for coach Alison Cross, who is hanging up her coaching hat.

Clarke described Cross as a “constant” in girls basketball for many years.

“It’ll be a loss to the basketball family; she’s been like a constant in girls basketball, probably for as long as I’ve been at the school,” Clarke said.

“Allison has lot of determination; having the drive to succeed and do well, and to push yourself.”

Also in attendance was Joe Ticotsky, who was honoured by Saint Andrews mayor, Doug Naish, with a letter of appreciation for his contribution to the school, and to the basketball program.

Ticotsky travels from Connecticut, and has lent a hand in the basketball program since his initial visit three years ago.

Cross admitted she was “having a hard time saying goodbye,” but praised Ticotsky for his help with the team.

“It’s amazing. I’m a mom that played ball in high school 30 years ago, and I just wanted to make sure that my daughters had teams, and high school is kind of out of my element,” Cross said.

“To have somebody of that caliber come up and develop this team, and develop this school, is incredible.”

The Algonquins nabbed four wins this season (the team has had two total in the past three years), as well as the first league win in more than a decade, with a 43-23 victory over École Samuel-de-Champlain in November.

In a recent tournament in Minto, the squad defeated Chipman by 34, lost to Minto by three, and Blackville (tournament champion) by three.

Cross said the team has improved in leaps and bounds from the beginning of the year.

“I think the way they fight together as a team, and support each other as a team, and the skill development that they have from this year is just amazing. Where they’ve come from, I’m really proud of them.”

Clarke, giving a nod to Ticotsky, said she felt “honoured that he took the time to come and help with our team.”

“I think he’s definitely part of our basketball family. It wouldn’t be the same without him,” Clarke said, noting Ticotsky “was a big part of getting the preparation ready” for seniors night. “He really made it special,” she added.

“He has so much passion for basketball and he’s able to share that and grow other people. If you have passion for a sport or passion for anything, it can really take you a long way.”

Ticotsky, who also visited Saint Andrews in November, said when he is home, he follows the team’s scores closely online, and speaks frequently with Cross.

Ticotsky initially became aware of the area after travelling to a music festival in January of 2014. He emailed the director of the festival, asking advice on what a good detour trip would be. The reply was to visit Saint Andrews.

After his visit, Ticotsky fell in love with the area. In addition to helping with the team, he returned in the summer to start the Basketball-By-The-Sea camp.

“First Alison asked me, and I just found something neat about the kids. For a team that doesn’t win a lot, they keep coming back, they play hard and they’re supportive of each other,” Ticotsky said.

“It’s nice to hear referees and other coaches saying how the kids got so much better during the course of a year.

“It’s neat as a coach to be able to see that growth, and they’re just really good kids. No ego, no drama. It makes it enjoyable.”

Ticotsky said he’s made “lifelong friends here,” and plans to return during the summer, for the basketball camp.

“It’s the flukiest reason how I got here,” Ticotsky said laughing. “And just the best experience how it’s continued.”

The Algonquins are slated to travel to Rothesay Netherwood School Monday, to meet the River Hawks in league play.