Captain on the court

A lack of size didn’t stop Liz Boag from becoming an OUA All-Star

Gaels veteran guard Liz Boag is 19th in OUA scoring and ninth in assists this season.
Gaels veteran guard Liz Boag is 19th in OUA scoring and ninth in assists this season.

Liz Boag wasn’t sure she had what it took to play at the university level.

The fourth-year women’s basketball star stands at only 5’3 — far shorter than the rest of her competition — and stopped growing when she was 13. Because of that, she was always used to playing against players taller than her.

Her current coach, Gaels bench boss Dave Wilson, said when he tried to recruit her in grade 10, Boag didn’t know if she’d be able to compete at the university level because of her short stature.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to play in my first year,” Boag said. Not only did she go on to be a part of the OUA all-rookie team in her first season at Queen’s, she became a two-time all-star and the captain of the Gaels.

Last season, Boag led Queen’s in scoring with 13.9 points per game and averaged 3.9 assists, the sixth-highest total in the OUA.

After advancing to the second round of the playoffs last year, the guard is leading the Gaels to one of their best seasons in the past decade. Currently, Queen’s is sharing second place with the Ottawa Gee-Gees in the OUA East division.

The Kingston native honed her skills at local house leagues when she was younger with the Knights of Columbus and the Kingston Fighting Irish, before serving as the captain of her high school basketball team.

“[I] always kind of knew I wanted to go to Queen’s,” she said.

Boag has always been an effective three-point shooter. She’s shot 38.8 per cent from beyond the line during her OUA career. This season, she’s 13th nationwide in three-pointers made.

Despite the women’s three-point line being moved 18 inches outward in the past year, her shooting percentage has remained relatively the same.

She quickly acclimatized to the OUA’s level of competition during her first year because her teammates sustained numerous injuries that season, giving her more playing time as a rookie.

In Boag’s first two seasons, playing alongside decorated former Gael Brittany Moore, the league’s third-highest career scorer, helped her adjust. Boag described Moore as “one of the best players the OUA has ever seen.”

They often competed in light-hearted competitive practices, where Wilson would tally made shots in shooting drills as motivation for them to try to one-up the other.

When Moore graduated in 2012 and began a professional basketball career in Germany, Boag’s position expanded to take on the team’s leadership role.

“She makes those around her better because she’s a kid who leads by example,” Wilson said.

Because of Boag’s commitment to the game and her dedicated work ethic, he described her as a “self-made player”. It was because of her leadership qualities that Wilson coveted Boag during recruitment.

“It was not about size; it was about character and how she worked and what skills she brought to the table,” he said. “It was a situation where we really wanted Liz here.”

Boag plans on returning for a fifth year to play for the Gaels. As it stands now, all members of the team will be returning.

Barring injuries, she believes the Gaels have a bright future ahead of them and are in a strong position to make some noise in the playoffs, this year and next.

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