Basketball, Sports

Martlets’ basketball misses playoffs in crushing defeat to Concordia Stingers

It wasn’t meant to be for the McGill Martlets (3–11) in their must-win showdown against the Concordia Stingers (4–11) on Saturday, Feb. 18. In an emotional farewell to senior players Jessica Salanon and Amélie Rochon in their final home game, the Martlets were unable to contain Stingers star Areej Burgonio, in a 75-58 defeat for the home side. The result means the Martlets fall short of securing the final place in the RSEQ league playoffs.  

In her last game at Love Competition Hall, team captain Salanon told The McGill Tribune it was do-or-die for the team. 

“They came up stronger than us,” Salanon said. “They fought harder. So I guess they deserve the win. It just hurts [….] For us, there’s no chance for playoffs. But hey, basketball is just a game, right?”

After a narrow loss to the Stingers the week before, the Martlets started with intent, capitalizing on early fouls to secure a tight lead in the first quarter. First-year guard Daniella Mbengo led the charge with driving layups as Martlets head coach Rikki Bowles prowled on courtside. Point guard Burgonio, who stands at just five feet tall, kept the Stingers within touching distance, but first-year guard Stephy Tchoukuiegno provided the edge from the far-right corner with an assured three-pointer to close out the quarter with a 17-15 lead.

In the second quarter, the Martlets let their lead slip. Although there were positives from Tchoukuiengo’s sharp shooting, the Martlets were unable to seize on the free throw opportunities and the Stingers pulled away with a 30-26 lead after sinking nine unanswered points. The moment of the quarter came from Burgonio, who closed the half by zipping up the court on the counter-attack in the dying moments of the second, before pausing at the three-point line, shimmying to the left of her marker, pulling back, and sinking the two points.

Launching the second half, third-year guard Emma-Jane Scotten led the Martlets in an attempted comeback, gathering an offensive-rebound and burying her attempts at the free-throw line. Despite this, Concordia maintained their grip on the game. The Martlets fought back in the latter end of the quarter, with Sydney Foran and Salanon both swishing three-pointers. The animated Stingers bench sirened throughout the quarter, while the Martlet crowd cheered and jeered ‘defence’ from courtside, as the Martlets finished the third quarter down 56-40.

The Martlets gritted their teeth in the final quarter, with third-year centre Kristy Awikeh gathering a rebound and calmly finishing the subsequent layup. However, the Martlets’ resolve would not be enough, as the Stingers continued to toy with their defence, sinking the Martlets’ chances of a prized playoff spot. 

Rochon, who’s finishing her fourth year studying medicine, told the Tribune that she will miss the Martlets’ close family spirit. 

“It’s so many things,” Rochon said. “I’ll remember the moments on the court, especially this year, the wins that we got were so special to me [….] There [are] just so many variants outside like just doing groceries or  chilling with the team […] all of it. Even practice. It’s just a great bunch of people and that’s what I’m gonna miss.”

Martlets head coach Rikki Bowles spoke to the Tribune about how Rochon and Salanon, the teams’ graduating seniors, will be an immense loss on and off the court. 

“The thing about Martlets basketball is that it really is a family, so we look forward to seeing them back in the stands and as involved alumni.”

Although this spelled the end of the Martlets’ playoff chances, the Martlets hope to end the season on a high note with their final game of the season next week at UQAM, on Feb 25.  

Moment of the game:

In the game’s final minutes, a ripple of applause waved through the crowd and courtside benches for senior players Amélie Rochon and Jessica Salanon, who both took the court for one final time. 


“I just appreciate every, every, every single day with [the] team. I’m grateful. And you know, these years, they’ve passed by really quick. And it’s just when you’re at the end that you realize.” —Jessica Salanon on her time playing for the Martlets

Stat Corner: 

The Martlets averaged 52.3 points per game this season, a substantial improvement on last season’s average of 44.4.

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