Junior cagers earn accolades for Hamilton mentor

Hamilton’s Mark Walton is sharing the credit in having Canada’s Junior Women’s National team qualify for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships.

The Canadians finished second at this year’s FIBA Americas tournament, compiling a 4-1 overall record and taking home a second consecutive silver medal at the event.

“Our girls played extremely well and that’s a tribute to all Centre for Performance (CP) coaches across the country and to Christine Stapleton and Mark Walton’s work at the National Elite Development Academy (NEDA),” said Canadian head coach Rich Chambers.

Walton, who coached Hamilton high school teams, was named interim head coach of the women’s 2007-08 National Elite Development Academy (NEDA) program, while Stapleton took maternity leave last February.

Canada last captured a silver medal in the 2006 FIBA Americas tournament, held in Colorado Springs, USA. Seven members of that team have now moved on to be part of either Canada’s Senior Women or Development Women’s National Teams.

“We had a great staff that worked really well together and the chemistry on our team was simply outstanding,” said Chambers. “It was a pleasure to work with such a dedicated and enthusiastic group which is merely a reflection of their high school, CP and NEDA coaches that have prepared them over the course of the last three years.”

Canada tallied impressive wins over Brazil, Argentina, Puerto Rico and Venezuela en route to the silver medal, losing only to the eventual champions from the USA. Brazil and Argentina also earned World Championship berths.

The 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women is scheduled to take place July 23 – Aug. 2, 2009 in Thailand.