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USA Women's U16 National Team

Additional Quotes: USA 91, Canada 46

  • Date:
    Jun 11, 2017

USA head coach Carla Berube (Tufts University)

What were your thoughts on the game?
Our defense was the difference, our intensity on the defensive end, and the energy we brought. We just kept getting stop after stop. In the first quarter, I thought we allowed them to get a lot of easy drives. They were getting to the rim on us. In the second quarter, we really shut that down and got some important defensive rebounds, and that was leading to easy offense. When you get stop after stop, it’s hard to sustain us in transition, because we have athletes and players who can make plays in transition and make plays for each other. It was awesome to watch. For a team that has not been together very long, they worked really well together.

On Aliyah Boston earning MVP:
 She is just so solid. Teams have to game-plan for her. It’s really hard to play one-on-one against her in the post. She is so dominant on both ends. A great shot blocker, a great rebounder, she keeps a lot of balls alive, and she finishes well. She did a great job tonight, and I’m really proud of her. Being a finalist and getting cut last year to now being MVP of the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, I’m just super proud of her. She’s a great kid and works so hard on her game.

How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It feels awesome. We are excited to be bringing gold back to the USA. I owe so much to my staff, just game-planning and getting the team ready. The team worked so hard. We gave them a lot in a short amount of time, and they executed and came together both on and off the court. That’s what it is all about, and when you have that work ethic and you have the team jelling, good things happen.

Steve Gomez (Lubbock Christian University)
How does it feel to win a gold medal?
Incredible team work from everybody. From the staff that came along with us, the team, the coaches, we had a great time together. It started back in Colorado with just some hard work. The girls came together, which is rare in that short amount of time to see kids enjoy each other so much. And, it showed on the court. They really performed well together. A lot of hard work went into it. It was a lot of sacrifice and team work. Nobody had an agenda. We all worked together.

Vanessa Nygaard (Windward School, Calif.)
What did this experience mean to you?
It was fantastic – great coaching staff, great players, played on a world stage against great competition. It was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m just so happy that it resulted with such a great victory tonight.

How does it feel to win a gold medal?
That was the goal. We are happy. We know, a couple of years ago, the USA didn’t get gold, and we wanted it back bad. Especially against Canada, we were not going to give this up tonight. The girls came out fired up.

Fran Belibi (Regis Jesuit H.S./Centennial, Colo.)

How does it feel to win a gold medal?
Gold is great, especially getting gold while representing our country. There was a lot of tough competition in Argentina and Canada, and for us to come out with this gold is really a testament to how hard we worked and how hard we played throughout the whole tournament.

What are you going to take away from this experience?
Leadership roles. On a team like this, there are so many great players, I might not necessarily need to be the leader. But, I will definitely take this experience back to my club team and to my school team.

Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/Worcester, Mass.)
On the game:

We came together well as a team, and we just made shots. Our energy picked up in the second quarter. We played better defense, and that led to great offense.

What does it mean to you to earn MVP?
It feels great. I didn’t know I was getting it, and it felt great to receive the trophy. It just means I have to keep working.

How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It feels amazing. We all worked hard, and we got where we wanted to get.

Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.)
How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It feels so amazing. Last year I got a bronze. To get a gold this year, it’s just an amazing feeling. I’m blessed to have great teammates, and we couldn’t have done it without each other.

What did this experience mean to you?
I’ll always remember this. It is my first gold medal. It’s just amazing.

Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./Eden Prairie, Minn.)
On the game:
We battled in the first half. In the second half, we came out and we knew that we wanted gold and we just played with a lot of energy and heart.

How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It just feels amazing and humbling. I just feel so blessed to be able to work with these coaches and these great players. You always see it on TV – the Olympians getting gold medals, and it is just really cool to get one.

What did this experience mean to you as a basketball player?
When you are working with 11 other great players, you have a role to play. You are not going to be the superstar, and you are not going to do everything for the team. It’s just amazing to build relationships with all of these girls on and off the court. It showed on the court that we had really great chemistry.

Caitlin Clark (Dowling Catholic H.S./West Des Moines, Iowa)
How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It’s unexplainable. It’s probably the best feeling in the world. If it wasn’t for my teammates and the coaches, we wouldn’t be here.

What did this experience mean to you as a basketball player?
It just changed my whole perspective from the team aspect – coming together and having one goal, and everybody working for that one goal and not just your own needs.

Zia Cooke (Rogers H.S./Toledo, Ohio)
How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It is an amazing feeling. The experience was great. I never thought I would be here, and it feels so good to be able to be coached by the coaches I was coached by, play with the players I played with. It’s just an amazing feeling.

What did this experience mean to you?
I’m going to take a lot away from this experience. Heart, just make sure you have heart in whatever you do, believe in yourself, friendships, teamwork. There is a lot I’m going to take away from it. From this day forward, I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully I will be back next year.

Azzi Fudd (Potomac School/Falls Church, Va.)
On the game:
We played as a team. Everything that coach told us in our scouting report, we executed the scouting report. We defended, and we moved the ball really well.

How does it feel to win a gold medal?

It feels so great.

What did this experience mean to you?
I’m going to have more confidence, and I’m also going to have more experience – playing internationally, but also playing with 11 other really good girls. I’m going to have more confidence and more mental toughness.

Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio)
On the game:
We came out pretty sluggish in the first quarter, but in the second quarter we picked it up and built our momentum.

How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It’s incredible. I still can’t believe it. I always dreamed about winning a gold medal. And to win it right now, is just so crazy. To win it with this group of girls, I made a lot of friends, and I feel like we all worked very hard. We learned new things and played different positions, and we worked really hard.

Diamond Miller (Franklin H.S./Somerset, N.J.)
How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It feels great. All my hard work is finally paying off. We deserve it, so it feels really good.

What will you take away from this experience?
Skills and how to play with other girls who are also good, and knowing that you don’t always have to have the ball in your hands in order to succeed. I can take a lot – leadership and learning to be the best on the court and off the court.

Jordyn Oliver (Prosper H.S./Prosper, Texas)
How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It’s surreal. It’s something that you dream of and that you think might happen a long time down the line. To have it happen when you are 16 is just surreal.

What will you take away from this experience?
Friendships. I made a lot of good friends that I probably would never have met … coaching, everything. It was just a crazy experience.

Celeste Taylor (Long Island Lutheran H.S./Valley Stream, N.Y.)
How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It feels fantastic. We set this goal when we started as a 12-member team, and we all worked so hard to achieve this. It was set in our mind. We knew that it was going to happen. We just put our hearts into it, and listened to what coach said. Her pregame speech was amazing, and I think that helped us.

What did this experience mean to you as a basketball player?
As a basketball player, I think it helped me tremendously. Getting to know my team, being able to read certain things, knowing that you don’t have to score to be the best player, even to help your team win.

Kylee Watson (Mainland Regional H.S./Linwood, N.J.)
How does it feel to win a gold medal?
It feels like such an amazing accomplishment, just to be here and to win and gold and be as successful as we were. It’s so incredible to have USA across your chest and bring home a gold medal to our country.

What did this experience mean to you as a player?
It definitely showed me a lot of leadership roles and how to work together as a team. We came together so fast in such a short amount of time, and we ended up playing so well together. We are just one big family. The energy we brought on the bench was another thing I learned.

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