Niagara Prep rookie has the Wright stuff
Niagara Prep’s seniors’ night Monday at A.N. Myer was a glimpse at the soon to be past and the present of the Ontario Scholastic Basketball Association squad.
On a night that Niagara defeated Lincoln Prep 90-69, the club recognized graduating seniors Maddie Picton, Julia Colavecchia, Donna Ntambue and Sarah Te-Biasu, and Grade 10 players Alexis Wright and Emma Koabel both hit double figures.
Wright, who came into the game averaging 4.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game, netted a season-high 14 points in the victory.
“Lexi works her butt off,” Niagara Prep head coach Dave Picton said. “You see her with the weights and you see how her body has transformed. With her and Emma, the future of Niagara Prep basketball is great.
“We have got some nice pieces and we are going to keep adding and keep building our fundamental base.”
Wright was one of the players presenting awards to the graduating seniors.
“They have been pushing me all year, helping me improve and helping me get to the level I want to be at so today was more about me being there for them, making it their night and showing them everything they have meant to me,” the 15-year-old Welland native said.
She agreed it was motivating to know Ntambue and Te-Biasu were heading to NCAA Division 1 schools to play scholarship hoops and Maddie Picton and Colavecchia doing the same at Canadian universities.
“I want to get a university scholarship — I’m not sure Canada or the States yet — and it is really inspiring to see all that they have done and I’m trying to push to be where they are,” the 5-foot-9 guard said.
Those goals landed her at Niagara Prep.
“Seeing the level of competition and how much effort and the work ethic at every practice, it was that high-intensity level that I wanted to be playing at,” the former Centennial student said.
She feels she has taken her game to a higher level this season.
“I think I have a lot more confidence in my shot and I have been in the gym every day,” she said, adding her strength has also improved dramatically.
Wright knows what she needs to do to take the next step in her progression.
“I still want to work on my offensive skills, getting to the basket and making better dishes, and improving my overall court sense,” she said.
In Monday’s game, Wright and Koabel displayed a great on-court partnership, hitting each other with long passes for easy buckets.
“They were Junior NBA champions together and we have a couple of other kids coming up to for next year,” Picton said. “They have been playing together since they were four years old and when you see those two playing together, you can see they are in sync.”
Wright loves playing with Koabel.
“I have been playing with Emma ever since I started in basketball and I feel we constantly have that connection of where each other is on the court,” she said. “We have really good chemistry.”
Getting to play OSBA ball with Koabel is great for Wright.
“And it’s not just on the court,” she said. “We’re friends and it’s nice to have someone to do this with. It makes it a lot better.”
Niagara Prep improved to 16-1 with the victory while Lincoln Prep dropped to 13-4.
“On seniors night, the emotions get a little riled up but I’ve got to tell you, the seniors stepped up early,” Picton said. “Maddie played well and Julia shot the lights out today and it was so great to see them end their homestand like that.”
In a pre-game presentation to the graduating seniors, Picton fought his emotions while talking about his departing players.
“How much work goes into this stuff, how much do you deal with, how much do we try to give to these kids and how much do they give back to you? It’s crazy, it’s just years and years of effort and now these kids are gone,” he said. “How could you not be emotional?”
Niagara 90 Lincoln 69
Mick and Angelo’s/Johnny Rocco’s/Cracker Jack’s Player of the Game: Niagara’s Julia Colavecchia with 17 points including five treys.
For Niagara Prep: Colavecchia 17; Maddie Picton 16; Alexis Wright 14; Emma Koabel 12; Donna Ntambue 9; Sarah Te-Biasu 7; Serah Williams 6; Janee Harrison 5; Chantelle Blagrove 2; Sarah Harvey 2.
For Lincoln Prep: Jayme Foreman 22; Summer Bostock 12; Rafaela Toussaint 10; Rhein Steinauer 8; Lauren Audino 5; Kirsten McGrath 5.
Up next: Niagara Prep is at Father John Redmond Thursday at 4 p.m.