Long List of New Brunswick Players Set For Next Level

NB's Lucy Beaumont will suit up with Saint Mary's University Huskies in the fall. (Image Performance Photo)

 The list is long for New Brunswick girls who are set to play at the next level in 2019-20.

 Whether it's USPORTS or Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association levels, the province will be well represented this season.

 We'll take you through the recruit list:

St. Thomas Makes Local Moves

Fred Connors didn’t have to go far to find his latest recruit for the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association’s St. Thomas University Tommies.

 His daughter Emma committed to the program.

She played with the Leo Hayes High Lions, saw her help the Lions reach the NBIAA finals at Harbour Station and won the team’s Perseverance Award. 

Coach Connors knows exactly what type of player, and person, he is getting with Emma.

“We are excited to bring Emma into the program because she is such a tough nosed defender and is willing to play physical,” said Fred. “She is coming off a long-term knee injury and making strides, so we are hopeful she will be ready for September. We also like how community minded she is and the leadership she will bring to the team this coming season.”

There is a lot of familiarity with the program for Emma, as she has watched the team since she was just a baby.

“Every year I witness the STU girls come together not only as teammates, but as close friends,” said Emma. “Also, they are always hugely competitive in their league and I want to compete at that level with them. Having been coached by my dad before, I have a good understanding of their style of play and it is a style of play I’ve always enjoyed.”

Emma is the fifth recruit announced for the 2019-20 season, joining her high school teammate Bianca Hughes, Samantha Stordy, Abby Draper and Cassy Hemphill.

Lion Joins Tommies

 Bianca Hughes out of Fredericton’s Leo Hayes High Lions has committed to the Tommies’ program.

The five-foot-seven wing is happy to pursue her post-secondary education and continue to play basketball with St. Thomas.

“I am thrilled to get the opportunity to play for STU in my hometown while studying towards my law degree,” said Hughes. “I have a lot of respect for Coach (Fred) Connors, as he has coached me, encouraged me and mentored me over the years and I know he will help me grow as a player. I also developed a lot as a player when coached by assistant coach, Moe Perez, back in my (Junior) Reds days. I love that the other two coaches Kathleen Johnson and Ashley Bawn are past Tommies themselves.”

 Hughes is familiar with many of the Tommies.

“I had the opportunity to play with some of the STU girls this past summer and I had so much fun,” commented Hughes. “I got to see how close and what a great team they are. I am looking forward to being part of STU women’s family, growing as a player and teammate in such a great organization.”

Mariner Sails to UNB

Six-foot post Sara Fudge of the Fundy Middle High Mariners is joining head coach Jeff Speedy and the Atlantic University Sport women’s conference Reds.

 Fudge is a long-time member of Basketball New Brunswick elites. She represented the province at three Canada Basketball championships including the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg in 2017.

 She was a starter with last year’s provincial team at the national event held at UNB’s Richard J. Currie Center, the same venue she will now play in with the Reds.

“We’re very excited that Sara chose to join our Reds women’s basketball program,” said Speedy. “We love her size and the physical way she plays the game, but she brings so much more to the table. She’s a great student, a true leader and always puts the team first, all things we look for in a recruit but don’t always find.”

 Speedy called Fudge a blue-chip prospect.

Fudge becomes the first player from Fundy to play women’s basketball at the USPORTS level.

 She’s ready for that big challenge.

“I’m eager to play higher intensity basketball with, and against, smarter, faster, and stronger athletes,” said Fudge. “What I look forward to most is being pushed by teammates, and becoming the best version of myself, mentally and physically, all while developing into a stronger player so I am able to contribute to the team in every way I can.”

UNB Inks Local Lion

A renewed love of basketball has landed Jaiden Penney a chance to showcase her talent at the AUS level.

 Penney has committed to hometown UNB and Speedy.

 Penney had, until recently, been focused on soccer including playing for New Brunswick at the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. But she’s come back to basketball with a new passion and fire.

“I’m most excited to see my growth and improvement as a basketball player that will come from playing at a higher level,” said Penney. “The team is young, but I have no doubt that I will be challenged every practice. I’m excited to enter a new basketball family and overcome any challenges we face as a team.”

Speedy called bringing Penney into the fold a ‘unique’ opportunity.

“Jaiden is a unique signing for us,” he said. “She stepped away from basketball to pursue soccer, a sport she’s excelled in for the past three or four years. But she has fallen in love with basketball all over again and we’re really looking forward to helping her reach her goals on the court and in the classroom.”

Saint Set to Go Marching in to AUS Panthers' Lair

NB's Lauren Harris has committed to University of Prince Edward Island Panthers.

Harris was announced as a recruiting commitment to Matt Gamblin’s AUS squad.

 Every path to U SPORTS commitment is different for all athletes.

 Harris split her time between hockey and basketball growing up, but change came upon her just a few years ago.

 Basketball started creeping to the forefront.

 Perhaps a late bloomer, Harris started to focus on basketball. Harris had a standout season with the Saints in 2018-19 on the heels of playing for Basketball New Brunswick’s under-17 team last summer which hosted Canada Basketball nationals in Fredericton.

 ‘At some point, I realized I was more passionate about basketball and that’s when I started taking it more seriously,’ she said. ‘I continue to play hockey today and I have played both because I was lucky to have coaches who encouraged multi-sport athletes. I had continued to focus mainly on hockey, but somewhere along the way, I realized that when I was at the rink, I really wanted to be at the gym.’

Harris, who will study science to pursue a medical career down the road, enjoys the pace the Panthers play and that was an attraction during the recruiting phase.

 It also means there’s plenty of more tools to add to the toolbox.

 ‘I will be preparing for the quicker, tougher and ultimately more elevated calibre of the university game,’ she said. ‘I will focus on getting shots up, improving my foot speed and becoming more confident with my ball handling.’

McGill Lands Veteran Black Kat

 One of the first long-time BNB players to commit was Maddy Colpitts.

 Colpitts committed to McGill University Martlets of Montreal back in December.

 McGill plays out of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec.

 Colpitts was a member of four BNB teams that participated in age class Canada Basketball championships including the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.

 She was a four-year varsity veteran with Fredericton High Black Kats, where she attended three Final 12 AAA championships.

  Colpitts was part of Fredericton’s back-to-back Final 12 titles and was named MVP of the final game this year following a 21-point outing in the final.

 ‘McGill is a school I had looked and I’m familiar with the campus and the city so it’s something I’ve been looking forward to since the fall,’ she said. ‘There’s an opportunity to study at a great school and join a very good basketball program.’

She joins a veteran program under the reins of head coach Ryan Thorne.

 Thorne and the McGill staff had plenty of opportunity to see Colpitts in action the past couple of summers.

 BNB under-17 program set up shop in Montreal for a week of tournament play, exhibition games against CEGEP schools and training.

 We’re very happy Maddy chose to play in our program,’ said Thorne. ‘She’s a talented player who can shoot the ball well and finish around the basket. She’s going to improve our overall size and shooting ability around the perimeter.’

Panthers Cast Recruiting Net Into Kennebecasis Valley

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

 Hey, it’s not easy to try and figure out the world when you’re in Grade 12.

 Reilly Sullivan knows all about it.

 The graduating senior from Kennebecasis Valley High Crusaders in Quispamsis wasn’t sure what her future would hold beyond the remainder if this year’s AAA season and into graduation celebrations.

 Her future became clearer when UPEI announced it is bringing Sullivan into their AUS fold.

 ‘I’ve been on the fence about university for a long time,’ said Sullivan. ‘My priorities included academics, athletic program, coaching and city. The big thing for me was I wanted to go somewhere and feel a part of the community.’

 That’s what Sullivan has enjoyed growing up in the Kennebecasis Valley and developing under veteran head coach Moira Gagnon with the Crusaders.

 She went through the Kennebecasis Valley Minor Basketball Association with a crew of players who have become friends over the last six to seven years.

 ‘I’ve been very lucky to grow up in KV and be connected to all the people around me,’ she said. ‘I’ve had the chance to play on team where a whole community rallies behind us.’

 Sullivan fully understands there is work to be done to play at the next level.

 She has had national competition the past two summers, but will be on her own for workouts to get physically stronger and faster for U SPORTS.

The community Sullivan talked about will come back together to Quispamsis for off-season training, something she looks forward to even more this time around.

  ‘University basketball is going to be a huge step where the pace is faster, girls are stronger and things are more intense,’ she said. ‘I want to improve on many things. It’s going to be about focusing on the basics like shooting, ball handling and defence. It’s about getting in the gym to work on strength and speed. Luckily for me, I’m able to train all summer with my former teammates who are already competing at the university level.’

Mounties Secure Lightning-Quick Guard From Capital

 The Mount Allison University Mounties need offensive help.

 The Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association program got a shot in the arm with that in mind, successfully recruiting Fredericton’s Sophie Trail to join the program in 2018-19.

 Trail finished her senior season with the Fredericton High Black Kats as a provincial champion for the second straight winter and was a starter from the guard position for head coach Kevin Daley’s squad.

 Mount Allison head coach Ryan Chase has followed Trail’s career since she played youth basketball and throughout Basketball New Brunswick’s Elite Development Program.

 ‘We feel Sophie is a tenacious defender, but she possesses a strong perimeter skillset and can share responsibility in prime ball handling duties,’ said Chase. ‘We have plenty of graduating athletes and we anticipate Sophie being to provide at either back court position right away.’

 Trail is an untiring athlete, willing to go to difficult areas on the court and playing a physical game if need be.

 She does indeed possess long-range shooting abilities and can get to the basket through traffic.

 ‘We really like the relentless effort Sophie competes with on the court and the fact that she’s been extremely well coach with a strong academic acumen will allow her to fit in well at Mount Allison,’ said Chase. ‘Everyone one we spoke to said what a fantastic person Sophie is. We are happy with the quality of player we are getting and even happier with the quality of person we are adding to the program. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Sophie and her family into our Mountie family.’

 Trail has been a four-year varsity player with the Black Kats and attended the Canada Basketball under-15 nationals with BNB three summers ago.

 To say she was fired up to meet Chase and become familiar with Mount Allison would be an understatement.

 ‘I am very excited already for next season,’ said Trail. ‘This is going to be a huge change for me with graduation and leaving home, but it is something I am really looking forward to. I’m just hoping I can come in and make a contribution to the team. Mount Allison has so much to offer and has such an amazing reputation academically.’

 She looks forward to working with Chase, too.

 ‘I have heard so many positive things about Coach Chase and his coaching and teaching style,’ she said. ‘I’m grateful for the opportunity to play for him and learn his game.’

Mystics Come Calling for Hard-Working, Energy Kat

 The gym was packed, hundreds of Citadel High Phoenix fans cheering on their varsity girls’ team in a tournament game against the Fredericton High Black Kats.

 Fredericton would win the game, quieting the chants, drums and cheers of the Halifax fans back in early December, but the end result didn’t matter to one spectator in the stands.

 Mark Forward, the head coach of the ACAA power-house Mount St. Vincent University Mystics of Halifax, was on hand recruiting for his program.

 He certainly liked what he saw from Fredericton’s Piper Tracy-Stewart.

 It all led to Tracy-Stewart committing to the Mystics.

 Tracy-Stewart is a multi-sport athlete, one who also plays volleyball at the club and interscholastic level.

 But her athleticism, energy and ferocious physical play had Forward glancing around the gym to see who else was there.

 ‘My immediate thoughts of Piper when she first stepped on the floor was her commitment to working as hard as she could and a player who was going to do whatever her team needed,’ said Forward, whose Mystics lead the ACAA with a perfect 10-0 record. ‘There is no questioning what effort you will get from her day in and day out. She has an honest work ethic.’

 Tracy-Stewart can muck it up in the paint, knock down jumpers and make a loose ball competition an exercise in bravery for opposition.

 Forward expects that to continue at the ACAA level.

 ‘I see her fitting in just as she did with Fredericton,’ he said. ‘You don’t change much of what you like already. She will come in, work hard, learn our systems and contribute right away. I see her eventually becoming a leader with the assets she brings.’

 She certainly brings a certain level of energy to the game.

She was certainly thrilled with her commitment.

 ‘I am beyond excited to join Mount St. Vincent,’ she said. ‘’I cannot wait to see what’s in store next year.’

Saint Mary's Nabs Kats' 'Tough-Minded' Point Guard

The decision was not rushed for Torrie Janes.

 ‘There were so many factors outside of basketball that led to some sleepless nights and a lot of conversations at home,’ said Janes. ‘It was about finding the right academic fit, the right city and the right coach and program.’

 For Janes, that process meant she was ready to commit to head coach Scott Munro and the AUS  Saint Mary’s University Huskies of Halifax.

 The starting point guard led the Fredericton High Black Kats to back-to-back provincial AAA titles and mulled a number of U SPORTS and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association offers from Eastern Canada and Division II and III programs in the United States.

 Saint Mary’s was the fit.

 ‘It was great to see Coach Munro at so many of our FHS games whether we were at home or on the road and even at tournaments in the summer,’ said Janes. ‘I’m certainly looking forward to being in Halifax and studying at Saint Mary’s and playing with the Huskies.’

 Janes was a five-year veteran of Basketball New Brunswick’s age class teams.

 She broke into the BNB summer programs as an under-aged 13-year-old with the under-14 team and progressed to play in four Canada Basketball championships. Janes played two summers at national under-15s in Edmonton and Regina, represented BNB at the Canada Summer Games in 2017 in Winnipeg and was part of last summer’s Canadian event in Fredericton at the under-17 level.

 Janes tied for third at the national level in assists with 3.17 per game and was seventh in steals with 2.17 an outing playing at home. She was tied for fourth in free throws made with 14 and was fifth in fouls against with 3.5.

 She played a key role in leading Fredericton to a Final 12 AAA championship last February and logs over 35 minutes a game with the Black Kats under head coach Kevin Daley.

 It’s the coaches that have worked with Janes over her minor and high school career that she wanted recognized.

 ‘I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have so many excellent coaches who emphasized basic movement and skill development when I was younger,’ she said. ‘Coaches like Ryan Chase, Ryan Daye, Neil Smith, Alyssa Lebans, Peter Kelly, Coach Daley, Anthony Ashe, Robbi and Katie Daley. Just so many who coach the right way. Coach Chase taught me proper footwork and other parts of the game that I don’t even think about when I go out and play. Coach Kelly and Coach Lebans showed what it takes to commit to the weight room and fitness. Mr. Daley has shown so much trust in me. Others worked so hard on helping improve my game. I have taken something from all of them.’

 The Huskies struggled to a 3-17 record this year and Munro is bringing in first-year players like Janes, her Black Kat teammate Lucy Beaumont and Clara Gascoigne of Dartmouth High Spartans of Nova Scotia to help get Saint Mary’s back in the fray.

 ‘I’ve liked the way Torrie plays having watched her at FHS and with New Brunswick for a number of years,’ said Munro. ‘She has a high IQ and is very competitive. That has been a strong formula for us in the past. She can play both guard positions. She is a tough-minded player with a winning mentality.’

Saint Mary’s is getting younger, but the ladder leads upward.

 ‘It’s been great being able to watch so many U SPORTS games in Fredericton,’ she said. ‘It makes you realize where you need to be in terms of training and development to step on the floor.’

Kats' Power Forward Commits to Huskies

 Yes, basketball was a way in.

 But there was a lot more that went in to selecting Saint Mary’s University when it was decision time for Fredericton’s Lucy Beaumont.

 The graduating member of the Fredericton High Black Kats committed to head coach Scott Munro and the Huskies.

 ‘The thing that really stood out for me at Saint Mary’s was that I really have a chance to have it all,’ said Beaumont, a power forward with the Black Kats. ‘SMU has an amazing business school and programs and I get a chance to play basketball. I knew I needed to pick a school for my academics first. Basketball doesn’t last forever and at the end of the day, my education is most important and will eventually lead me into the real world.’

 The road to Halifax has been a busy one for Beaumont.

 Rising through the minor basketball ranks in her home town, Beaumont has been across the country representing Basketball New Brunswick at age class national tournaments multiple times.

 She was also part of the Black Kats winning a Final 12 title in back-to-back seasons at Saint John’s Harbour Station.

 Beaumont played as an underage with BNB’s under-14 program before attending four straight Canada Basketball championships.

 She played twice at the under-15 level and two summers of under-17 including a starting role with the 2017 Canada Summer Games team in Winnipeg.

 Beaumont started again for Team NB at the 2018 nationals in Fredericton.

 She was ninth in points at the Canadian tournament, scoring 12.67 points a game. She also led the nation in free throws made with 26, drawing 3.83 fouls against which had her third.

 There was interest across the AUS and Ontario University Athletics for Beaumont, who can shoot from the outside and can mix it up in the paint.

 ‘We’re very excited to have Lucina join our team next fall,’ said Munro. ‘She has a very strong skill set and the ability to score both inside and step out on the perimeter as well. I have been a big fan of the way she plays since first seeing her compete with Team New Brunswick a few summers ago.’

 Beaumont looks forward to working and learning under Munro.

 ‘Scott led the Huskies to four AUS championships in a row from 2013 to 2016 and I know he can do it again,’ said Beaumont. ‘Halifax is an amazing city and I look forward to experiencing so much at school, with basketball and with an eye on the future. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.’

 She had also reflected back on her time with BNB, a major learning experience.

 ‘I have 10 times the confidence I used to have after playing for BNB,’ she said. ‘I always thought the game was about offence and I played that way. I learned offence is important, but amazing defence will win you championships. I’m not nearly the same person I was five years ago.’