FIFTEEN-year-old Makeda Harding credits her ability to hold her own under great pressure as the buoy that keeps her afloat when the demands as a student athlete gets just a little too much.It’s a trait that has served the Marian Academy third former well, as she juggles life as a dedicated student, and a national junior squash and hockey player.Harding takes it all in stride by ensuring that she has her plan all mapped out.“The first part of the year I mostly focus on squash, and coming down to the middle is when I have to push more, and then the second half is when I can ease off and play more hockey. Yea, there are some parts of the year when it’s really hard, but I have the ability of being able to cope well under pressure,” the Sports Personality-of-the-Week said.The four-time ‘Most Outstanding Girl’ squash player most recently copped her sixth and seventh national junior title, in just four years, due to her entering in multiple categories of the tournament over the years.Playing in the Girls’ Under-19, Under-17 and Under-15 categories this year, Harding ended with both the Girls Under-17 and Under-15 titles at last month’s Woodpecker Products Ltd Junior National Squash Championships. She finished second in the Under-19.“I like playing in multiple categories, it pushes me more, knowing that I can beat this person or get really close, and it builds my confidence,” Harding noted of her achievements.“I like my accomplishments because I like to use them to build myself against people, people who say I’m not good at anything, or who try to bring me down.”Her most recent squash accolades add to the ‘Most Promising Female Player’ award that she copped in hockey at last year’s GTT National Indoor Championships where she played for her Spartans team.Harding had been involved in hockey since she was 10 years old, encouraged to follow in the footsteps of her sister, Micaela. But it was in late 2011 when she got involved in squash. Makeda started out in a developmental programme held by the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) that offered one-hour training on Saturdays.The keen eyes of national coaches Garfield Wiltshire and Carl Ince picked up that Makeda was just a diamond in the rough, and were eager to see this talent developed.Wiltshire first offered Makeda training outside of the Saturday programme, and before long so did Ince, and she began to grow in the sport, gradually of course, but showed growth nonetheless.By 2013 she made it all the way to a third place finish in the Girls’ Under-13 category at the national junior tournament, and the GSA was confident enough to give her a spot on the national team for the Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Championships, which was held in Trinidad that year.Makeda did not disappoint. Despite finishing only seventh in the Girls’ Under-13 category, she was instrumental in gaining Guyana’s eighth consecutive Girls’ team title, and ninth consecutive overall team title.She’s been a fixture of the national team, at the annual event, ever since, each year improving just a little bit more in the individuals. When she returned in 2014 she was fifth after another year in the Girls’ Under-13 category.In 2015 she was in the Girls’ U-15 category and made her first final, but was cut down by Barbados’ Megan Best, their leading junior Girls’ player. Last year she ended third, after being stopped by Cayman Islands’ Jade Pitcairn in the semis.This year she’s facing another tall order as she enters the Girls’ U-17 category, where Best will again be joining her. Best is now a junior and senior Caribbean champion, after she won the women’s title at Senior CASA last year.
With 4:04 left in the first quarter during Syracuse’s 81-70 overtime win over Stony Brook on Nov. 30, SBU’s Cheyenne Clark got past her defender and drove the open lane. Digna Strautmane, late on the rotation, scrambled to get in position and threw her hands up to stop the shot.Clark drove her shoulder into the 6-foot-2 Strautmane’s chest and missed. Before the ball could roll away, the referee made his call: blocking foul on Strautmane. SU head coach Quentin Hillsman pursed his lips and wiped away forehead sweat. He’s grown accustomed to managing foul trouble early in the season, and this game would be no different.Despite Syracuse’s (8-0) undefeated start, its two tallest players, Strautmane and freshman center Amaya Finklea-Guity, haven’t been a consistent factor. The lack of production stems from the frontcourt’s foul trouble. Strautmane has accumulated the most personal fouls on the team (27) and has recorded at least four fouls in half the team’s games. Finklea-Guity is tied for third in fouls (16) and has played more than 19 minutes just twice. Hillsman has attributed the fouls to poor on-ball defense by SU’s guards and poor positioning by the forwards.“They’re both freshmen,” Hillsman said. “This is their first college games. They have a lot of responsibility.”When on the court, the pair contribute. Strautmane leads the team in rebounds per game (8.3) and blocks (19). Finklea-Guity ranks fourth in rebounds (4.9) and second in blocks (6).AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe duo will look to stay out of foul trouble against a Colgate team that sports four forwards taller than 6 feet on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome.“We know better,” Finklea-Guity said. “We just have to be more aware of those silly little mistakes…There’s only two of us right now.”Kevin Camelo | Contributing Digital Design EditorSyracuse only has three bigs on its active roster: Miranda Drummond, Strautmane and Finklea-Guity. When on the court together, they anchor SU’s 2-3 zone. Drummond, 6-foot-1, and Strautmane flank out wide. Finklea-Guity is 6-foot-4 and protects the rim. On SU’s bench, there is no player taller than 5-foot-9. So, when a member of Syracuse’s frontcourt gets in foul trouble, opponents have exploited the height advantage.In Syracuse’s most recent contest against Stony Brook, Strautmane committed her second foul with more than seven minutes left in the first half. Before she could receive a third, Hillsman benched her for Finklea-Guity. Two minutes later, Finklea-Guity earned her second foul and in another two minutes joined Strautmane on the sidelines. To replace Finklea-Guity, Hillsman turned to 5-foot-8 Jasmine Nwajei. The Orange were outrebounded by the Seawolves, 7-1, and allowed four layups to close the half after Finklea-Guity exited the game.“We need to guard out the man that we’re on,” guard Tiana Mangakahia said, “and make sure that they don’t get into foul trouble by helping.”In overtime against Stony Brook, a help-defense foul occurred with 2:51 left in the period. A Seawolves’ guard had broken through the zone and charged down the baseline. Strautmane switched over but didn’t set her feet and was called for her fifth foul of the game. For the second time this season, Strautmane fouled out.Part of the issue, Hillsman said, is Strautmane and Finklea-Guity committing “guard fouls,” such as slapping a player when going for a steal or reaching over an offensive player’s back to tip a pass away. Instead, Hillsman wants his forwards to save the fouls for later in the game, when tighter, foul-prone defense is necessary.Finklea-Guity started her Syracuse career with 23 points in two games. Over the next six games she’s scored 27 total. Strautmane led SU in its season-opening win against Morgan State on Nov. 10 as she dropped 17 points, pulled down 11 boards, blocked four shots and assisted on three others. Since then, she hasn’t scored double-digit points. Both figure to be a part of SU’s future success, if they can stay on the court and out of foul trouble.“I want to play,” Strautmane said. “If I want to play, I’ll have to keep myself in a good position so I don’t get fouls.” Comments Published on December 6, 2017 at 12:42 am Contact Nick: firstname.lastname@example.org | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+