Rebels basketball captain Zera Lynn Panesa named league MVP

Declan Schroeder, CONTRIBUTOR 

Zera Lynn Panesa was a force to be reckoned with all season, topping most major statistical categories. She led the MCAC in total points, average points per game, and steals. THE PROJECTOR/ Declan Schroeder

Zera Lynn Panesa drove hard to the hoop this season—netting a major honour.

Panesa, in her second year playing for the Red River College Rebels, was named Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) women’s basketball most valuable player.

“Being MVP was one of my goals starting off the season,” Panesa said, who sports the suitable number one on the court.

In addition to taking home MVP hardware, Panesa, a pharmaceutical engineering student out of Sisler High School, helped the Rebels win their sixth straight championship as they beat the CMU Blazers 68-57 on Feb. 12.

One glance into Panesa’s scintillating statistics makes it clear why the 5’3’’ guard was lauded.

Panesa dominated nearly every major statistical category this year. She led the MCAC in buckets drained with 57, total scoring with 156 points, and scoring average, putting up just shy of 20 points per game.

She wasn’t just a prolific point scorer, though. The well-rounded Panesa also gobbled up 27 defensive rebounds, swiped the ball from opponents a chart-topping 26 times, and dished out 20 assists.

“She’s a great all-around player,” said Jaenas Pangilinan, the Rebels’ head coach. “Offensively, she definitely quarterbacks our team. She keeps us poised—she sets the tempo for us.”

On the court, Panesa leads by example, according to Pangilinan.

“She’s definitely a very talented individual,” he said.

Panesa fell in love with basketball when she was in Grade 8 and attending École Stanley Knowles School. She’s been playing ever since.

Although it ended well, Panesa said this season was tough from the beginning. The Rebels started off with only five players, and when one was injured, they had to recruit girls from the college’s soccer team. The team became healthy in the second half, though, and recruited more players. They came together, and the season culminated in Panesa’s MVP nod.

“When I was awarded MVP, I felt this whole weight come off of me,” Panesa said. “I was nervous because me and another girl were basically going head-to-head for the award all season.”

Pangilinan, however, said it would have been “a disgrace” if anyone else was chosen MVP.

“Her MVP this year was definitely, without a doubt, unquestionable,” he said.

Panesa says her teammates were a huge part of her award and credits them for banding together.

“It really was a team effort because I couldn’t have accomplished anything this season without them,” she said. “I can’t thank them enough.”

Panesa wasn’t the only Rebels hardcourt player honoured this year. Her teammate, Brita Enns-Kutchy, and men’s team point guard Jonathan Wilner were both selected to all-conference teams.