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Crozon impressed by international talent

She's back from her first international tournament, but she won't be home for long.Paige Crozon, 16, of Humboldt, just got back from a month-long trip that included Toronto, Spain, and France and a whole lot of basketball.
Paige Crozon (11) dribble down court as she heads for the basket during a game against the U.S. at the FIBA Under 17 World Championship for Women held in France July 16-25.

She's back from her first international tournament, but she won't be home for long.Paige Crozon, 16, of Humboldt, just got back from a month-long trip that included Toronto, Spain, and France and a whole lot of basketball.Crozon left for Toronto on June 30 to attend tryouts for the 2010 Canadian Cadette women's basketball team. The team would compete at the FIBA Under 17 World Championship for Women in France July 16-25.She was asked in April to attend the tryouts and said she was surprised by the invitation. Crozon, who turned 16 on July 5, was the second youngest player to make the team.Crozon's Centre Performance coach gave her a glowing review, commenting on her bright future, work ethic, and her skill improvement over the last year, which resulted in the invitation.The two days of tryouts saw 28 players compete at two three-hour sessions every day."It was tiring, mentally and physically," Crozon admitted.The three-day training camp, held July 3-6, was a continuation of the mental and physical preparation started in tryouts, Crozon explained."We had to learn all the offence and defence we were going to be running and we were expected to give 110 per cent every day," she said.At the end of the two days, each player had a private interview and learned their fate. If they didn't make the team, they went home the next morning. The 12 players selected to the team would start practising for the FIBA tournament."I was nervous," Crozon said. "I had a good camp, but they were all talented girls. I knew it would be tough."When Crozon found out she made the team, she jumped up and down and then phoned her mom with the good news."I was so happy. I was super excited," she said. "It was my goal over the past year to make the Cadette team."The team flew to Spain on July 7 to take part in an exhibition tournament with Austria, Spain, and the U.S. in preparation for the world championship tournament."We lost all three games," Crozon said. "They were all very talented teams and all ended up in the top eight at Worlds."The exhibition tournament was a learning experience for the team, Crozon said, with every player getting equal time on the court."The first game, I was overwhelmed with the speed and the talent," she said. Spain was also going through a heat wave at the time, with daytime temperatures reaching 42C, and there was no air-conditioning in the gyms they played in, Crozon noted.They also had fairly large crowds watching their games and after one, a group of children swarmed them asking for autographs, Crozon said with a smile.After the exhibition tournament, they took an 11-hour bus ride to France for Worlds.Crozon got to start the first game at Worlds, which was nerve-wracking, but the earlier games had helped her settle down. Canada won their first game against Turkey."We came out with fire and were ready to play," Crozon said.Canada's second game didn't go so well, ending with a loss to Japan."They played a style I'd never seen before," Crozon said. "They were very quick. We outsized them, but they had more speed."Canada then met the U.S., the team which would go on to win the championship."They were unbelievable," Crozon said. "They were huge and could do everything. They worked well together."Canada's game against Russia ended in another loss, although this game was tighter."We matched up well with them," she said. "We went over their offence in practice and were prepared for the game, but we had a few moments where we let off a bit and they took advantage."Canada's final round robin game was against France, who eventually won the silver medal."There was a home-town crowd and they were crazy," Crozon said. "Every basket they scored, the crowd went wild. When we scored, it was just quiet."Canada also had two consolation round games. The first against Argentina, was Crozon's best game. She had one shift where she scored four points in less than 30 seconds."We were told before the game that they would do anything to win, pull hair, scratch. And right off the hop, they were pulling our arms and our jerseys," she explained. "We had to stay mentally tough."That game was very close and went right down to the buzzer, but Canada came up short."It was tough loss," Crozon said.Canada's last game was against Mali."We won that game," she said. "We played strong and shot the ball well."Canada finished in 11th spot in the tournament, improving their ranking from 12th.Overall, Crozon enjoyed the experience."It was a positive experience," she said. "We had a talented group of girls and an excellent coaching staff."It was also a opportunity for growth both on and off the court."I learned so much," she said. "There were new obstacles and new challenges every game."The experience also showed her what she needs to work on to continue to develop her game.While the team didn't have much time for anything but basketball, they did get to talk to some of the other teams."Most teams had one girl who spoke English," she explained. They talked to China and shared a bus ride with the Americans. And they stayed in the same hotel as four other teams.As well, they were in Spain when that country's soccer team won the World Cup and the Tour de France bike race went through Rodez while they were there.Crozon also got a little bit of home at the tournament as her parents came for the last seven days."It was very emotionally up and down through training camp and tournament and I was looking forward to seeing them," Crozon said.The team's time was strictly scheduled, Crozon said, and all focused on the games they were playing. The team would get up between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. depending on when they played, eat breakfast, watch game films, eat lunch, nap, and then play at 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. The late games saw them getting back to the hotel around midnight and then they'd eat supper.The team came back home right after the tournament, which was good for Crozon, as she was off to Toronto again on August 1 to play with Team Saskatchewan in the Under 17 National basketball championships."I've missed a month of practice while I was away, so I hope the team remembers me," she laughed.Crozon is one of three returning players to the team this year, making her one of the leaders."If we come together as a team, we stand a chance at a medal," she said.Nationals run from August 2-8 in Toronto.