© Jason Malloy/The Guardian
Holland College Hurricanes guard Jenea Barrett, left, drives on teammate Chrishanda Rahming during Tuesday's practice.
Holland College enters ACAA women's championship following loss in final regular season game
The Holland College Hurricanes women's basketball team won 15 straight games before losing its regular season finale Saturday at Crandall University in Moncton.
"It is a bit of a wakeup call for us," coach Mike Connolly said after Tuesday's practice. "If it had to happen, it's as good of a weekend as any."
He said the team was missing some of its players, but didn't play well.
Fifth-year player Jenea Barrett said it was a good reminder of the importance of playing well each time they hit the court.
"We needed that, but now we understand and I think that's what's going to making us a little more hungry," she said.
The Hurricanes have the opportunity to prove it Saturday when they play in an Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) semifinal at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.
The Hurricanes (16-2) won its first regular season title this season, earning a bye into the semifinal.
The team is looking to repeat as the conference champions and make a third straight trip to nationals. That will take two weekend victories with only one berth at nationals coming from the ACAA this season.
"We have this weekend down pat as long as we all come with defence," Barrett said. "Defence wins games, and that's what it will come down to."
The team has four of its starters back from last season, including forwards Ashley Moss and Marvia Dean and guards Barrett and Jazlin Barker. Guard Menny Smith graduated leaving a hole in the starting lineup.
"We miss Menny, but I think Chelsea (Slawter-Wright) has done a wonderful job thus far and I think she's the finishing piece," Barrett said.
The team played with a limited roster in the first semester but added guards Sarah Steele, Candace Smith and Milcania Diaz-Rojas as well as forward Chrishanda Rahming in January.
Barrett said Smith gives them instant offence off the bench.
"Offensively, I've never seen someone so driven," she said.
Connolly wasn't pleased with the energy level at Tuesday's practice, but said it's a long season with two-hour practices daily since September.
"We'll gear it up. I have faith in these guys," he said. "There's a lot of veterans on this team who have been with us for a number of years now. They really want it, I know they want it and I think they'll respond."
One of those veterans is Barrett, who is in her final year of eligibility.
She knows her time is winding down but is looking at extending her career two more weeks.
Connolly said Barrett doesn't have to carry the load. He wants her to relax, have fun and enjoy the day.
"I'd put a lot of money on Jenea Barrett showing up with a big game, two big games actually," he said. "This is her last hurrah . . . She's a very talented player, very mature player. She'll be ready."
Moss missed last weekend's game with a concussion but preliminary indications are she will be able to play on Saturday. Jenna Deighan is probably out for this weekend with a shoulder injury while Rayelle Morrison is out for the season with a knee injury. Forward Taylor Meek missed part of Tuesday's practice after colliding knee-on-knee with a teammate.