Stranges surprised with award
Ava Stranges was due for some good fortune to come her way.
The 17-year-old Niagara Falls native missed her first two years of high school sports due to the COVID pandemic before being sidelined with a serious knee injury.
Stranges made a triumphant return to the court this season for the Saint Paul Patriots and was so dominant she was selected as the winner of the Harold Biggar Award for the top high school girls basketball player in Niagara Falls as voted on by local coaches.
Stranges had no idea she has won until informed at the last minute by her father, Saint Paul principal Lou Stranges.
“It feels pretty good,” she said. “It was fun experience coming here and being recognized.”
Stranges’ name will be added to the trophy which includes notable names such as broadcaster and former Marauder Amy Audibert along with Vanessa and Victoria Rampado.
Ava Stranges was determined to get back on the court after tearing her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus during a practice.
“After I tore my ACL, I knew I wanted a fast recovery and come back and not let that hold me back at all. I just started playing right away,” she said.
She did admit the process was difficult at times.
“It was really frustrating with all of that happening,” she said. “I just wanted to be back on the court. It was a big transition going from doing all these sports and then doing nothing. It was really difficult but I knew it was something wanted to get back at right away.”
Stranges was a key cog for the Patriots this season.
“Scoring was my main asset and I liked getting my teammates involved a lot so passing and just being a good leader,” she said.
She has a big fan in Saint Paul coach Kristin McDonald.
“She is a great player and a game-changer,” McDonald said of Stranges at the BPSN Girls Basketball Tournament last fall. “She is an awesome scoring machine, is great on defence and she knows the game inside and out. We didn’t have her last year because she hurt her knee and it was a very disappointing year for her and us as well.”
Stranges has been playing basketball since she Grade 2 and often played up an age group until Grade 8. She has suited up with the Niagara Falls Red Raiders and Welland Warriors before making the Niagara Juel team last season.
She plans to play at the club level again this year and would like to continue her career at the post-secondary level next year.
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