Coming off strong double double, Gordon leads Griffins into weekend action vs. UBC

Toni Gordon, seen in action against UNBC earlier this season, led the Griffins with nine points on Friday (Rich Abney photo).
Toni Gordon, seen in action against UNBC earlier this season, led the Griffins with nine points on Friday (Rich Abney photo).

Jason Hills 
For MacEwan Athletics 
EDMONTON – When MacEwan Griffins head coach Katherine Adams was tasked with rebuilding her program, it didn't take long to see why she recruited guard Toni Gordon

The second-year guard has some serious athleticism and is a menace on the glass. She plays the game all out – hustling every second she's on the floor. 

But what stands out even more is her selfless attitude. It doesn't matter if she's in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, Gordon's attitude and effort doesn't change. 

"Growing up, I was taught that nothing is ever guaranteed. You have to earn it. Even if what happens isn't expected, you make the most of that moment," said Gordon, who is averaging 5.4 points and a team-leading 6.6 rebounds per game this season for the Griffins. 

"When it comes to basketball, I'm selfless in that sense. I don't care if I'm starting or coming off the bench, I'll do whatever I need to do to help the team." 

Gordon is coming off her best game of the season when she recorded 13 points and 10 rebounds against UNBC on Nov. 18 for the second double double of her career. 

Gordon will look to build on that performance as the Griffins (0-6) host the UBC Thunderbirds (6-2) on Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (3 p.m., both David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV). 


Gordon not only leads the team in rebounding this season, but she's also the team's second leading scorer and sits third in field-goal percentage (44%). No matter when she's on the court, she seems to find a way to impact the game in some way. 

"It's certainly not hard to notice Toni's athleticism and her explosiveness and energy she brings to the court. The way she can rebound the ball really stands out," said Adams. 

"But what I love about her game is how versatile she is. She has that ability to contribute and do a lot of little things that can impact the game." 

Growing up, Gordon was a dancer first, before she started playing basketball. But her mother, Wendy Belle is a former Griffin and suited up for the NAIT Ooks, so, it was only a matter of time before she left the dance floor for the hardcourt. 

"I feel like when it comes to the game, my mom has always tried her hardest to be very encouraging. She understands the game, because she's played at that level, but she wants my basketball experience to be my own," said Gordon, who is earning her Bachelor of Science degree and wants to attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon. 

"I've always looked up to her. I can remember when I was young, always telling her that I wanted to play just like her." 

Gordon described her mom's game as dynamic, and she was strong in the post. Her mother earned MacEwan's Most Improved Player award in the 1999-2000 season. 

Toni Gordon is a key part of a youth movement on the Griffins with the majority of the team in their first and second years (Rich Abney photo).

When you watch Gordon on the court now, she's shown the ability to take the ball to the rim and be able to finish at the basket, while absorbing contact. That's a valuable attribute to have as a guard, but that wasn't always the case for her. 

"When I was younger, if I could get to the basket without making contact with another player, that's the only way I could go," admitted Gordon. 

"It was something I had to really work with even all throughout high school. I can remember in my first year, Katherine had a conversation with me. She said, you have to be OK with contact. I was getting to the rim easily, the only thing messing me up was the idea of strong contact." 

The message was certainly received by Gordon as she's no longer afraid to attack the rim against bigger opponents in the paint. 

"If you ever try to guard her one-on-one, she is hard to keep up with because of the speed and energy she brings to the table," said Adams. 

"She excels at both ends of the floor. We feel that we can help her become one of the best defenders in the conference. She has that ability to guard the other team's best player, whether she's guarding a point guard, or a big in the paint." 

Gordon's game has grown exponentially since joining the Griffins, and the great thing is, she's nowhere near her ceiling. She has so much more room to continue to get better. 

That fits perfectly for a young MacEwan program that is going through a transition this year with the majority of their roster in either their first or second year. Gordon's game can grow with the rest of her teammates. 

"As a young player myself, I can see the growth happening in practice and competition. It makes me more excited to see how we finish off this season and what it will look like next season or two seasons from now," said Gordon. 

"There is a lot of growth to be had. I feel like this team, we're going to take the world on by storm. I love being on a young team like this. We're all growing together and that's so important for team culture and we're learning and growing and experiencing it all together."