The national championship stage is a familiar one for Briar MacDonald.
The Antigonish native will play with a provincial squad shooting for a Canada Basketball crown, for a third time, when the U17 girls’ take the court later this month in Fredericton.
“It is really exciting,” the 17-year-old said, noting the opportunity to play for “a new coach and with a new team.”
MacDonald was a member of the Team Nova Scotia U15s, in 2016, and vied for a Canada Games’ championship last summer, as a key contributor to the U17s.
A Canada Basketball identified athlete, in 2016 and 2017, she has attended identification camps with the national program.
“I want to come off the bench and just play the way that I can and do the things that I am capable of,” the soft-spoken forward said, when asked about her goals for nationals.
MacDonald has battled the injury bug during the lead-up to the tournament, after spraining her ankle in only the second game the team played this summer.
“I will be ready to go [for nationals],” she said in a July 25 interview, just a few days after being greenlighted to return to the court.
Team Nova Scotia head coach Len Harvey said “it has been a struggle for Briar.”
“We haven’t seen her a lot in [game] competition,” he added, because of the injury.
Nevertheless, she has impressed her coaches – both before the injury that put her on the bench for three weeks and during her recent return to the practice court.
“We have challenged Briar and she has really pushed herself,” Harvey said, noting her focus on becoming more of a shot blocker and defensive presence.
“It has been fun to watch her emphasize those areas.”
The Acadia Axewomen head coach added her “size and length” will be keys for the provincial team.
“She has made a lot of progress and we are really happy for her,” Harvey said.
MacDonald agreed her experience at nationals should be helpful not only for her, but also her teammates. She is one of three players who were members of the 2017 Canada Games squad.
“I have an idea of how things go, and the competition level that we are going to face,” she said.
This fall, MacDonald will play her fourth season with the perennial provincial power Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals.
The national championship tournament is scheduled for Aug. 6 to 11 at the Richard J. Currie Center on the University of New Brunswick campus.