Kingston, ON- As the clock wound down, the realization finally hit Saskatchewan Huskies fifth-year forward Summer Masikewich. Her university career was over. It was one with a national title, four Canada West titles, a U Sports Defensive Player of the Year Award and multiple other accolades.
As the buzzer sounded in her fifth-place game against the UPEI Panthers and her team celebrated an 80-48 career, her time in U Sports finally came to an end.
“It did sink in when the buzzer went off,” Masikewich said of the finality. “It’s been one of my greatest joys to be a Huskie and play with all the girls I’ve played well throughout my five years on the team and to play under such amazing coaches. I just feel like the luckiest girl in the world honestly.”
Despite losing to the host Queen’s Gaels in the quarterfinals, the Huskies bounced back to beat the Laval Rouge et Or and the Panthers.
“I’m so proud of our team,” Masikewich noted. “We had grit in the face of adversity…we were disappointed that we lost but we bounced back. We came together as a team and leaned on each other.”
The game started close with both teams attacking the rim and pushing the pace. Panthers forward Lauren Rainford and Masikewich both got positioning inside and scored in the paint. Panthers veteran guard Reese Baxendale was making plays and hitting threes.
As the first quarter went along, the Huskies made their presence felt led by Masikewich inside and Libby Epoch running the offence. Saskatchewan scored inside and out and while continuing to push the pace and score in transition.
Their 21-11 lead after one quarter turned into a 45-17 advantage at halftime and 60-35 after three quarters.
Both teams’ benches stayed engaged, celebrating each basket, even into the fourth quarter. Saskatchewan kept their lead for the victory.
“Tough game to play in but we were grateful to be playing on a Sunday in a meaningful game against a strong opponent,” Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis said. “We just wanted to get out there and show our best and show how we can play.”
Thomaidis said she was proud of the team’s energy level and how they competed.
The game also showed the mix of veteran and young players, the present, past and future of the program.
Rookies Gage Grassick and Tea De Mong made their impact felt on both ends of the court. Grassick had 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals while De Mong had nine points and five rebounds. Fellow first-year Ella Murphy Wiebe also contributed with five points and six rebounds.
“For first years to get this type of experience is massive,” Thomaidis said. “It’s so tough to come here and do well.” She added they did well and hopes they use the experience as a motivator in the future.
Now, having made their mark this year, those first-year players will return and help carry the program going forward.
“I’m really proud of our younger players,” Masikewich noted. “We had a lot [of them] come in over that COVID year and they really put in a lot of time and work through that and it showed this season and I’m just so proud of them. They really stepped up for us.”
While graduating seniors Epoch, Masikewich, Janaya Brown, Claudia Lomba Viviana and Erin Kehrig are now leaving, they still made their impact for the team during the game and the season.
“Just really proud of what they’ve brought to the table,” Thomaidis said. “The success that they have brought to our team and for them to teach the young ones what it takes to be here and be successful on this stage is their biggest contribution.”
Featured Image: James Paddle-Grant/U Sports