Volume 91, Issue 83

Friday, March 6, 1998

100 bottles of beer


Women aim for Ontario's mesh

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
EXCUSE ME WHILE I KISS THE SKY. Tanneke Blaauboer [15] hopes to take a polished Western team into the Ontario playoffs and return with a medal.

By Ian Ross

Gazette Staff

Red light, yellow light...

With their feet inching to hit the accelerator, the Western women's basketball team is ready for the green light this weekend to race against the best competition in Ontario for the provincial championship at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Sitting in the pole position from the Western conference, the Mustangs will face the Ryerson Rams (9-11) in this afternoon's quarter-final game. Western head coach Bob Delaney refuses to take the Rams for granted, stating that the team will follow the age-old process of taking it one game at a time. Delaney feels the Rams lack of playoff experience may be the deciding factor.

"They have both size and quickness and are quite an athletic team but they are also the weakest of the teams in their division," Delaney said. "We want to play up-tempo and see if they can play at our level."

If Western succeeds in speeding into the semifinals, they will likely face the Toronto Blues (17-3) – the team scheduled to face McMaster (8-6) in the first round.

Blues head coach Michele Belanger said if the two schools should match-up, the game should be exciting considering the level of talent and the emotions stemming from a long standing rivalry.

"Western is playing well from what we understand, but we think we match-up fairly well," she said. "We need good team offence from everyone."

With a victory in the semifinals, the Mustangs would be a contender for the provincial crown and would be granted a berth in the national champions next weekend at Lakehead University where Western hopes to improve on last year's bronze medal finish.

"Winning the OUA championship has been one of our goals this season," co-captain Angela Nobes said. "Everyone wants to come home ready for the nationals on a winning note."

Unfortunately, the Mustangs are certainly not a shoe-in and have suffered engine trouble over the past two weeks, going 2-2 including losses to Lakehead and McMaster.

"The loss to Mac has become our pivotal moment in the season," said veteran Nadia Pezzolo. "After the game we realized that we needed to set goals, even for each practice. We worked on a new press this week to combat [Ryerson's] outside shooters, but I think we should be sticking with our regular game plan and only using that as an alternative."

Delaney also acknowledged the team's recent struggles and blames fatigue as the major factor. "We haven't played as well in the second half compared to the first, but then again I don't think any team can keep up at a high level for eight months," he said.

With the tough competition from the stronger Ontario East division standing in their way, Delaney hopes that his star players will come through in the clutch.

"We need a little more scoring out of Angela Nobes. With teacher's college, she has been putting in a full academic day before coming to practise and that has taken a toll on her," he said. "Rebounding is going to be critical this weekend. Nadia [Pezzolo] is going to need support under the basket from Tanneke [Blaauboer] and Jenn Haylor."

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998