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Volume 90, Issue 90

Friday, March 14, 1997



Second chance enters first phase

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
WINNING IS EVERYTHING. Veteran Mustang Nadia Pezzolo and the rest of the herd are looking to fulfill a national championship guarantee. The first battle begins today at 1 p.m. against third-seeded Victoria.

By Mike Sikorski
Gazette Staff

Let the treasure hunt begin.

Starting today, Thunder Bay will host the CIAU Women's basketball championships, where, sparked back to life by a wild card berth, the Mustangs have a shot at a national title.

After a disappointing 83-76 loss to York in the OWIAA semifinals, the lady Mustangs posted their highest offensive totals this season, demolishing Laurentian 107-75 in the third place game – giving the wild card committee no other option but to send a fourth Ontario team to play for the CIAU crown.

Although the loss was a tough one for Western to swallow, the team is thrilled with the wild card selection.

"We're really excited, the loss was a good learning experience and going into this weekend I think we're more focused," forward Tanneke Blaauboer said.

Seeded sixth in the tournament, the Mustangs are scheduled to play the third-seeded University of Victoria Vikes in their first game on Friday.

"Seeing the sixth seed playing the third seed, naturally you'd think the third seed is the one who should win. I don't think that's the scenario in this case," Western head coach Bob Delaney said.

The Mustangs will be looking for a little payback as the Vikes ousted them from the national championships in 1993.

The loss to the York Yeowomen in the OWIAA Championships may actually be a blessing in disguise for Western. Being ranked number one virtually all year made them the team to beat in the playoffs. However, now some out of province teams could underestimate the Mustangs' offense and get blown out.

"We're going in as the sixth seed so it's kind of like we're the underdog now – it's a different situation," OWIAA tournament all-star Mustang Nadia Pezzolo said.

The way in which the tournament is set up, Western will not play another team from Ontario until at least Sunday, meaning they will face some unfamiliar competition.

"We are going in kind of blind," Pezzolo said. "That means we can focus on playing our style more than worrying about specific players."

Making its sixth appearance in the nationals since 1971, Western will be seeking something it has never been able to grasp – a CIAU title. The team will be led by the newly-announced second team all-Canadian Angela Nobes, whose 221 points guided Western to an undefeated regular season.

"We're going in with a little less pressure on us, and we really hope to feed off the game [against Laurentian] last Sunday to carry us through," Nobes said.

"The loss against York was definitely a wake-up call and now, knowing what it feels like to lose, the girls don't want it to happen again."

Broadcasting begins today at 1:00 p.m. on 94.7 CHRW FM radio.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997