There was a lot to talk about after the Marist women’s basketball team defeated Niagara on Saturday, February 1.
Fifth-year senior Alana Gilmer led the offense with 23 points, and was just one rebound shy of a double-double, with nine. Senior guard Rebekah Hand posted her fourth double-double of the season, tallying 16 points and grabbing 12 boards in just 21 minutes on the floor. Junior forward Willow Duffell put herself in triple-double-watch territory, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Red-shirt senior Grace Vander Weide was the fourth Red Fox in double figures with 13 points, and she led the team with eight assists.
Impressive? Of course. But no one left the new and improved McCann Arena talking about any of that. All of the buzz in the building was about a freshman who scored her first college points with seconds remaining in the game.
The McCann Arena Faithful cheered at the 1:33 mark in the fourth quarter, when Head Coach Brian Giorgis called the number of walk-on guard Camille Loussedes. The freshman exchanged a high-five with sophomore guard Kendall Krick as she subbed out, and jogged onto the floor for the fifth time this season.
With 8.5 seconds remaining in the game, Loussedes received a pass from fellow freshman guard, Trinasia Kennedy, on the elbow near the broadcast table. She took a split second to survey the floor, before driving to the basket. She beat her defender with a right-handed dribble, euro-stepped around the help-defender in the paint, and laid the ball off the backboard for an easy two points.
“They started calling me ‘Euro Queen,” Camille said, referencing her teammates. “I’m obviously shorter than a lot of the players, so I have to do different moves to get to the hoop and not get blocked. I’ve been practicing that for a few years, and I did it a few times in practice the week leading up to the game.”
Camille’s older sister, Jules, is a manager for the women’s basketball team, and had a front-row seat for Camille’s first basket.
“She euroed, and that’s her move,” Jules emphasized. “She pulls that off all the time in practice and she’s been working on that since she started playing basketball. [Her first college points] could not have come in a better way. I had tears in my eyes. I was smiling ear-to-ear. I just wanted to jump up and down.”
Both Camille and Jules started playing basketball at a very young age. They would play in the driveway with their uncle, who would teach them the fundamentals of basketball. “I couldn’t even reach the hoop, but I learned a lot from him,” Camille said with a smirk.
The Loussedes sisters both played basketball throughout high school, and even played one varsity season together. “She started for us as a sophomore,” Jules said. “I wasn’t a full-time starter, but I love supporting her so much. It was also nice to have her there for my senior speech.”
Camille had been coming to the summer basketball camps at Marist for several years, so she knew the coaches and many of the players before deciding to come here. The summer before officially committing to Marist, she emailed Coach Giorgis asking for a tryout. Coach Giorgis was happy to oblige.
“Giorgis always told her that she was more than welcome to come here and walk on if that’s what she wanted,” Jules explained. “She also knew a lot of the girls on the team before coming here. I’m very close with them and hang out with them, so I think it was easy for her to adjust.”
“I’ve been coming to the games here since I was a little girl with my family,” Camille said. “I’ve always loved the atmosphere here and just the whole campus. My sister loves it, so that drew me in too.”
When asked what it’s like to go to school with each other, they gave wildly different and comical answers.
“I’ve given her a lot of insight about what to do, but she doesn’t take half of my advice, even though I tell her about all of the good classes and professors,” Jules said, clearly irked. “She ignores it, and I don’t know why.”
“She doesn’t invite me over. Which isn’t fair, but fine,” Camille said, though it was obviously far from fine. “But we get to see each other a lot [in McCann Arena] and when we travel, we usually sit next to each other.”
Camille has been a welcome presence in the locker room. Her quiet confidence and exuberant sense of humor add a new perspective.
“She won’t share any of this with you, but she’s a ball of energy,” Jules said. “She brings positive energy, excitement, and dance moves. She also brings comedy, [the team] knows they can go to her when they need a laugh.”
Not in the morning, though. That’s something the sisters agree on.
“We’ll come in for 9:30 practice and her hood is up and you just can’t talk to her,” Jules said, barely formulating that sentence through fits of laughter. “She’s not a morning person. When we have early flights, we find her sitting on the ground in the airport.”
“She gets so mad when we travel on a plane because I always lean against her and sleep for the whole ride,” Camille giggled.
One thing Camille did share was how driven she’s been to play college basketball.
Camille played three sports in middle school, the other two being softball and volleyball. She put them aside in her freshman year of high school, so she could focus on basketball and dedicate her off seasons to training and preparation. “I started travel basketball in like 4th grade, and I knew since then that this is something that I wanted to pursue and keep playing,” Camille said.
Now that she’s here, she’s taking every opportunity to learn and get better. She’s been a point guard (“one”) so far, but she is currently working on switching to the “two” guard, with emphasis on catch-and-shoot.
“Giorgis really knows his stuff and he wants us all to get better,” Camille said. “We just try to take it in and make those adjustments.”
The team has been waiting for Camille to get her first bucket for awhile. The level of excitement on the bench and in the locker room following the game was off the charts. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows the team and knows the family-like level of chemistry that these young women share. “We were all excited and yelling in the locker room after,” Jules said. “There was lots and lots and lots of hugs and dancing. It was phenomenal, picture perfect, and you captured it.”
“[My teammates] are so supportive,” Camille said. “Seeing those pictures and all those reactions was so funny afterwards. You could hear in the video, when I first got the ball they wanted me to launch it. They’re awesome.”
Photos by Mike Cahill