Photo by Alex D'Addese

Scotten, Paska take home OUA honours

By Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

BURLINGTON, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the 2017-18 women’s basketball major award winners and Wilson Sports all-stars.

One of the true standouts this season has been Leashja Grant (Nassau, Bahamas), whose on-court dominance has earned her OUA Player of the Year honours. Certainly, Grant has helped propel both her team and herself to incredible success this season, as not only did she help the T’Wolves go from an eight-win team in 2016-17 to a 16-win campaign this season, but she did so on the back of an OUA-leading mark in both scoring and rebounding.

Grant suited up for all of Lakehead’s 24 games this season, registering a double-double in all but one of those contests. Her eye-popping 22.3 PPG and 14.1 RPG were far and away the leading marks in the conference, but also made her a top threat in all of U SPORTS; ranking as the nation’s top rebounder and second-leading scorer.

The former Division I standout, who was also named an OUA First-Team All-Star, becomes the second Lakehead player to take home Player of the Year honours in the last four years – and fourth overall – joining former Thunderwolves standouts Jylisa Williams (2014-15), Angela Hrkac (1998-99), and Kathy Harrison (1991-92).

While Grant proved to be one of the premiere offensive players in the conference, Carleton’s Elizabeth Leblanc (London, Ont.) stood out for all the right reasons on the defensive end to earn the OUA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. Leblanc, who was also given an OUA Second-Team All-Star nod, made life miserable for the opposition, finding ways to block shots (finishing in the top ten therein), impede the passing lanes, and chip in on the glass; all while leading the team’s defensive unit to far and away the best marks in all of Canada.

The Ravens are no stranger to this award, having four previous winners in the category, but the current Carleton crew has stood out for several other reasons this year as well. Joining Leblanc as a Second-Team All-Star is teammate Heather Lindsay (Ottawa, Ont.), who secured double-double averages of 11 PPG and 10 RPG on the year to earn her second consecutive nod, while fellow Raven Catherine Traer (Chelsea, Que.) found a place on the Third-Team All-Stars thanks to yet another well-rounded season.

Guiding this talented, all-star laden Ravens squad from the sidelines, meanwhile, is the OUA’s Coach of the Year Taffe Charles, who once again has helped his squad reach impressive ranks on the court. Not only did Charles lead the Ravens to top spot in the OUA, but in all of U SPORTS. The undefeated squad proved once again to be a force on both sides of the ball, playing their way to a conference-best 72.4 points per game, while surrendering just 45.9 per contest.

This is the second time that Charles has won the award, having also taken home Coach of the Year honours with the Ravens in the 2009-10 campaign, but surely, the head coach will give a lot of credit to the talented group of athletes taking to the court game in and game out.

Another OUA standout who has made a difference beyond the playing surface – albeit a bit further than the sidelines – is this year’s Joy Bellinger Award nominee, Andrea Priamo (Guelph, Ont.). The award recognizes the student-athlete who excels in academics, athletics, and community service; and certainly, this Gael has shown not only the type of player she is during her Queen’s career, but also the type of person.

Priamo has gone above and beyond to make a difference both within and outside the sport. Organizing and participating in everything from Ride to Conquer Cancer and Shoot for the Cure to Cuts for Cancer and Run for the Cure, Priamo consistently looks to raise funds, awareness, and encouragement for others. The 2016-17 OUA Second-Team All-Star has also spent several years as the Varsity Leadership Council Co-President, wherein she has helped to promote a positive image of Queen’s athletics and build relationships with the university and larger Kingston community through volunteering and programming.

Similar to Priamo last year, meanwhile, fellow Gael Veronika Lavergne (Ottawa, Ont.) has earned an OUA Second-Team All-Star nod this season, chipping in with 13.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.1 BPG for the campaign.

While all of this year’s award winners and all-stars gather plenty of meaning from the sport of basketball, one individual who has gained perhaps even more is this year’s Tracy MacLeod Award winner, Lindsay Shotbolt (Markham, Ont.). The award is given annually to a female student-athlete in recognition of determination, perseverance, and unwavering spirit; all of which are seen in spades from the York Lions senior.

Shotbolt, who spent her first four seasons with the Carleton Ravens before graduating, has had anxiety for years and was diagnosed with depression; she tore her ACL just a couple years back and pushed through a hard rehab process to try and play in her fourth year; and she eventually decided to quit the sport. Fast forward to September 2017, however, and Shotbolt not only felt like she had gotten through the worst of her depression, but has managed to come back to put forth the most impressive on-court season of her career.

Joining the Lions for her final year of eligibility after coming to York for teacher’s college, she is one of just four players in the OUA averaging a double-double; is among the top ten in the conference in points, rebounds, blocks, steals, and free throw percentage; and posted several career highs in key statistical categories, which says a lot for the now four-time all-star. But more than the numbers, Shotbolt has been a leader and an inspiration across the board.

The final major award winner is one that made a splash in her first year on the court, and thanks to her impressive rookie campaign, Ryerson’s Marin Scotten (Ottawa, Ont.) is the OUA Rookie of the Year. It didn’t taken Scotten long to make her mark in the OUA, proving to be a gifted scorer and strong all-around contributor for the Rams. The young guard started in all 23 games for Ryerson and finished second on the team in scoring (12.3 PPG), which included a career-high 26 point performance in a January tilt with Nipissing. She didn’t stop there; however, as Scotten also chipped in with nearly five boards, over two assists, and one steal per contest; all while shooting a sizzling 46% from the field (10th in OUA).

While Scotten, who is Ryerson’s second OUA Rookie of the Year recipient in program history, was making her first impression on the OUA, another Rams player has long been one to watch, and the proof is in the pudding when it comes to Sofia Paska (Etobicoke, Ont.). The senior has been named an OUA First-Team All-Star for the third consecutive season and her numbers tell the story. Paska ranked 2nd in the OUA in scoring (20.3 PPG), 5th in rebounds (9.3) and 9th in field goal percentage (46.1%), showing once again that she is one of the finest the province has to offer.

Another OUA First-Team All-Star comes from the Windsor Lancers, as fifth-year player Emily Prevost (Montreal, Que.) earns her second consecutive first-team nod. The Human Kinetics major averaged a double-double on the season – 14.9 PPG and 10.3 RPG – to finish atop both categories for the Lancers and in the top ten for both categories across the conference.

Rounding out the First-Team All-Stars is McMaster’s Hilary Hanaka (Hamilton, Ont.) and the honour can largely be attributed to her offensive prowess. The senior guard cracked the top ten in scoring this season, finishing 7th with an average of 15.1 points per contest. But not only did Hanaka score, she did so efficiently, also finishing 7th in field goal percentage (46.6%). Helping to inject some instant offense into her all-star campaign, meanwhile, was a keen stroke from beyond the arc, ranking 2nd in the OUA with 41.3 3PT%.

Hanaka isn’t the only Marauder being recognized; however, as fellow senior Linnaea Harper (Newmarket, Ont.) has been named an OUA All-Star for the second straight season. The fourth-year player finished second behind Hanaka in scoring (12.5 PPG) on an efficient 41.7% shooting, while also adding 6.8 rebounds per contest.

Beyond the veterans, first-year Marauder Sarah Gates (Newmarket, Ont.) has been named to the OUA All-Rookie Team, as her impressive rookie campaign (10.4 PPG, 42.9 FG%) helped inject plenty of extra offense into the potent McMaster attack.

Another sharp-shooter has been named an OUA All-Star, meanwhile, with Toronto’s Keyira Parkes (Scarborough, Ont.) securing a Third-Team All-Star nod this season. The top-ten shooter and top-five scorer in the OUA had a career-year for the Varsity Blues and added nearly seven points per game to her previous season’s average to climb all the way up to a strong 16.8 PPG mark.

Fellow team-leading scorers Mackenzie Puklicz (London, Ont.) and Julia Curran (Waterloo, Ont.) – who pace the Western Mustangs’ offensive attack – have been named OUA Second-Team and Third-Team All-Stars, respectively. It is the second consecutive season the pair of purple ponies received all-star recognition, after Puklicz’s mark of 18 PPG and 2nd ranked 74 steals on the season, along with Curran’s average of 12.4 PPG.

Laurier’s Nicole Morrison (Hamilton, Ont.) recently had her Golden Hawks career come to a close, albeit in record-setting fashion, and she can put a bow on her final OUA campaign with her third consecutive all-star nod. The OUA Second-Team All-Star’s 19.3 points per game in 2017-18 were supplemented by the recent re-writing of the Laurier record books, as the senior soared to the top as the school’s leaderboard in both single season scoring and career scoring. On a conference level, Morrison also finishes her impressive career as a top-10 all-time scorer in the OUA.

The final OUA All-Star from the 2017-18 season comes from the Ottawa Gee-Gees, as Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus (Ottawa, Ont.) has been a leading force in the team’s 15-win season. She has been a key cog in the defensive game, highlighted by her more than two steals per contest, but has also been a solid figure on offense, chipping in with 7.3 PPG and 4.7 APG, with the latter ranking her as the second best passer in the OUA this season.

A further Gee-Gees standout has been Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu (Gatineau, Que.), who in just her first year with the school, was a true difference-maker for Gee-Gee nation. Starting in 20 of her 21 games played, Lefebvre-Okankwu maintained averages of 12.3 PPG and 6.8 RPG on the year; totals that put her first in both categories for the Ottawa squad.  

Also leading her team in scoring on the season was Brock newcomer, Kristin Gallant (Halifax, N.S.), who made the most of her 28 minutes per contest. The first-year standout turned her 13.1 PPG and 3.2 APG – both good for 10th in the OUA – and her 4th ranked 2.5 steals per game into an All-Rookie Team nod and should continue to be a key contributor for the Badgers squad moving forward.

Right behind Gallant in steals per game, sitting tied for fifth in the OUA this season, is fellow freshman Burke Bechard (Dover Centre, Ont.) from the Guelph Gryphons, who not only contributed on the defensive side, but in the all-around game. Her additional marks of 10.8 PPG and 6.4 RPG – both ranked 2nd on the Gryphons squad – have earned Bechard a spot on the OUA All-Rookie Team.

The complete list of major award winners and all-stars can be found below:

OUA Major Award Winners
Player of the Year – Leashja Grant, Lakehead
Defensive Player of the Year – Elizabeth Leblanc, Carleton
Rookie of the Year – Marin Scotten, Ryerson
Joy Bellinger Award – Andrea Priamo, Queen’s
Tracy MacLeod Award – Lindsay Shotbolt, York
Coach of the Year – Taffe Charles, Carleton

OUA First-Team All-Stars
Leashja Grant, Lakehead
Lindsay Shotbolt, York
Sofia Paska, Ryerson
Emily Prevost, Windsor
Hilary Hanaka, McMaster

OUA Second-Team All-Stars
Elizabeth Leblanc, Carleton
Nicole Morrison, Laurier
Heather Lindsay, Carleton
Veronika Lavergne, Queen’s
Mackenzie Puklicz, Western

OUA Third-Team All-Stars
Linnaea Harper, McMaster
Keyira Parkes, Toronto
Catherine Traer, Carleton
Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus, Ottawa
Julia Curran, Western

OUA All-Rookie Team
Marin Scotten, Ryerson
Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu, Ottawa
Burke Bechard, Guelph
Sarah Gates, McMaster
Kristin Gallant, Brock

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