Stingers 53, Varsity Blues 49: Concordia takes the lead in the Concordia Classic

Concordia overcomes the University of Toronto in a heated first home game

Stingers forward Gretta-Olivia Ineza attempts a bucket against Varsity Blues players. Photo Tuza Dulcinée

The jam-packed Concordia Stingers crowd in Montreal bolstered the Stingers to a 53-49 victory over the University of Toronto (UofT) Varsity Blues in a nail-biting first game of the Concordia Classic on Oct. 5 at the John Dore Court.

Despite the Varsity Blues’ lockdown defence and nonstop three-point barrages, the young Concordia team’s hustle, offensive adjustments and growing chemistry proved sharper. A stunning performance by point guard Areej Burgonio also helped cement the victory. 

“It was the whole stadium against [UofT]” said Burgonio. “It was definitely heartwarming to be here at home in my last year [with the Stingers]. I’m just thankful, my teammates are like my sisters and so I felt confident.”

Burgonio finished the game as Concordia’s top scorer with 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, followed closely by shooting guard Florence Poirier and forward Gretta-Olivia Ineza, both with 11 points.

Burgonio and Ineza remain one of the few veterans on a very young and improving Stingers squad. According to head coach Tenicha Gittens, their focus is set on developing their team and integrating rookies with the help of these veterans.

“They will do better, some of these girls are not used to playing this many minutes with [Burgonio], we’ll do a better job of catching and finishing layups,” said Gittens.“We’re using more of our big lineups this season, and [the team is] still getting used to three bigs on the floor”

The Stingers started off electrically, with Toronto trailing by three in the first half with a score of 24-27. The third quarter would appear different as UofT rained continuous threes on a scrambling Concordia squad that struggled to generate offence against their opponents. 

Although the Blues were up by three halfway through the third quarter, the Stingers dismantled their tenacious defence in the fourth, eventually gaining a nine-point lead, the largest of the game. Toronto managed to close that gap by the end, but Concordia still held the upper hand at the final buzzer 53-49.

“The purpose was to take our time, read the defence, and play with that,” said Ineza. “It’s our first season with a lot of size, we have the bodies, we have the people, we just have to bring them with us. [The younger players] are learning quickly.”

The women’s basketball team wound up winning all three games of the Concordia Classic. The team will be back in play on Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. against the University of Ottawa in a non-conference game.