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Ridgebacks see growth in tough first season

Despite 1-21 record, head coach Christa Eniojukan saw plenty of positives

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

With the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks women’s basketball season now at an end, head coach Christa Eniojukan believes their record doesn’t totally reflect their efforts.

The Ridgebacks finished the program’s inaugural season with a record of 1-21, earning a winning percentage of .045, and finishing on a four-game losing streak.

Speaking to The Oshawa Express about the season, Eniojukan explains they may not have gotten the wins they hoped for, but she feels they developed a “really good foundation.”

“The girls improved a lot. We had a lot of opportunities in the latter half of the season to win games,” she says. “We had some really close ones – one in overtime, we lost one on a buzzer beater, and that’s what you want to see in year one [of a program], you want to see growth.”

She explains it’s a tall order for a team comprised entirely of rookie players to play against opponents with third, fourth, or even fifth year players.

“We’re definitely very happy with the development that the girls have shown throughout the season,” she says.

She also says the team saw plenty of individual and collective improvement.

“When you have all new girls they’ve never played together it takes some time to build chemistry, and they each have their strength, and play to each other’s strengths, and they definitely got better at that,” Eniojukan explains.

For her, the team needed to get better at competing for the entire game.

“To play a game at this level for a full 40 minutes can be very mentally taxing, and I thought we showed a lot of growth in that,” she says, adding the team now knows what is expected of them going forward.

Next season, she is hoping for her players to improve on their consistency in their scoring, adding the individual players need to step it up at their position.

“We’ll work on that in the summer a lot, and we’ll have focus plans for each individual,” she says.

But it isn’t just on the offensive side where she wants the team to improve, as defense is just as important to Eniojukan, and she wants her team to start shutting down key opposition players.

During the season, Eniojukan says their most consistent player was Dalyssa Fleurgin, who averaged 11.1 minutes per game and 28.8 points per game.

“She was our leading scorer and one of our leading rebounders. She definitely showed some great signs,” says Eniojukan.

In addition to natural growing pains, the injury bug bit the Ridgebacks, as Eniojukan notes several players were in and out of the lineup at a variety of times.

“Some people that were getting there and starting to be key pieces and consistent, they, unfortunately, were out quite a bit,” she says.

She also points to Vanessa Budimunda as a player who showed growth, and was a key player in some games.

It took a while to earn their first win, but when they beat the Waterloo Warriors 77-70 on Feb. 1, Eniojukan says the team was “beyond excited.”

“It was a big weight off everybody’s shoulders, we had had a couple close games leading up to that and they had worked very hard and were very deserving of [the win],” she says.

Overall, the team is feeling optimistic, according to Eniojukan. She explains they saw a lot of growth, and are looking ahead to next season.