As the seconds on the shot clock wound down, four girls in white spread out around the key. Individually they pressed tightly to guard their opponents. At the top above the key, Cindy Zhou, having already scored a lot of points, made a crossover move to her left, blew past her opponent, and scored a crucial finger roll layup.
Anthony Krmek, the UTM Lady Eagles coach, called for a timeout with 40 seconds left in the game. Nearly three minutes later, the game was over, with the Eagles having lost 31–30.
For only the second time this season, the oversized family that is the UTM women’s Division 1 basketball team put their chemistry to test by featuring all 16 of their players. Zhou’s performance that garnered 16 points was all St. Hilda needed to upset the UTM Lady Eagles on their home court. Zhou dominated the Lady Eagles, who dressed with more than double St. Hilda’s seven-player roster), cementing her status as the UTM “giant killer”.
Even with time wearing down in the tight game, UTM’s defence strategy came down to one thing: stop Zhou. Krmek made an on-the-fly defensive shift, the simplified “box and one” defence. The strategy left a box-shape zone made by four players to protect the basket, while one player tried to one-on-one the best offensive opponent.
St. Hilda’s stout defence shut down Micheline Khan, UTM’s star point guard, who scored only two points. Katie Bora played like a woman possessed, and her 10 points (the majority coming from St. Hilda’s turnovers) kept the Lady Eagles in the game until the end.
When Krmek called the final timeout with 40 seconds remaining, the Eagles frantically passed, looking for the open shot—a good effort, but not enough time. He remained positive in defeat, thinking back to the season and towards the future.
“With a very talented squad this season, we just couldn’t put together all the pieces for a championship run,” Krmek said. “Our four and one regular season record speaks volumes about the potential this very special group of players possesses, and I look forward to what next season has in store for our Lady Eagles.”