Volume 91, Issue 87

Friday, March 13, 1998

Bottoms up


Ready for the main event

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
WHY ISN'T ANYONE LOOKING? Mustang hardcourter Trisha Young [9] will be looking to execute on all her passes this weekend when the team travels to Thunder Bay to compete in the national championships.

By Ian Ross

Gazette Staff

Let's get ready to rumble. With eight of the best women's basketball teams meeting in Thunder Bay this weekend for the national championships, Western will have tough competition to knock down if they hope to take home the belt for being the best in Canada.

Returning to the nationals with nearly the same line up that captured the bronze medal last season, the Mustangs will be in tough to improve on their performance after losing only one game to the two-time defending champion Manitoba Bisons in the semi finals.

Already sucker-punched before the bell with the loss of co-captain Angela Nobes to facial injuries, the Mustangs will spar with the Laurentian Lady Vees in the quarter-finals – a rematch of last Sunday's Ontario championship.

Head coach Bob Delaney has mixed emotions about the tournament draw, but feels his team is ready for a rematch with the Lady Vees.

"My initial reaction [to the draw] was disbelief," he said. "However, this could be a blessing in disguise. Laurentian had all the advantages with the home crowd last time and they only won 76-72 in overtime."

Veteran Mustang forward Tanneke Blaauboer confirmed her coaches views that Lakehead's Thunderdome will provide a more neutral site for the rematch to take place. "I think it will be more of an even game this time. Our defence rotates on how we talk which was difficult at Laurentian with the crowd backing them."

While Western still has a wide selection of scoring threats even with the absence of Nobes, defence will be the key to success if the team hopes to climb into the nationally broadcast title match-up.

With two of Laurentian's top scoring threats standing six-foot-three, Western will need to shut down their opponents below the basket right from the opening tip-off.

"We have to remain focused and poised and continue our solid defence," Delaney said. "If we can take command in first seven minutes, we will be successful."

If the Mustangs successfully move on to the next round they will likely face the No.1 seeded Bisons in the semi finals for the second year in a row. Defence once again will decide the outcome of the game with Manitoba ready at any time to throw a mean combination of Anne Smith and Marjorie Kelly – two of the nation's top scorers.

With no easy path to the national championship game for any team in the tournament, Delaney feels that any of the top five seeded teams have a shot at the Canadian title.

"The road to gold has a lot of speed bumps in it for us," Delaney said. "However, this is the most consistent we have been as a team. There is a real feeling of trust between the five players on the court."

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1998