Volume 91, Issue 88
Tuesday, March 17, 1998
Vikes' Brooke baffles Bisons in national title showdown
By Alan Russette
THUNDER BAY Prairie fires were put out by a one-woman avalanche in Lakehead University's Thunderdome on Sunday night as the University of Victoria Vikes marched to basketball supremacy by upsetting the University of Manitoba Bisons 66-61.
Led by first-team all-Canadians Marjorie Kelly and Anne Smith, this year's recipient of the Nann Copp Award for player of the year, the Bisons looked to continue the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) dominance and three-peat as CIAU champions.
But dismal shooting by Manitoba allowed the Vikes to build a 29-22 lead going into the half and while Manitoba pressed early and often, Victoria executed their press-break to perfection thanks to the efforts of the Vikes' version of mighty mouse, Lindsey Brooke.
The tiny second-year point guard proved to be pivotal in the game. Showing poise well beyond her years, Brooke successfully broke through Manitoba's pressure defence with her quickness and outstanding decision-making. Brooke wreaked havoc on both ends of the floor, helping Koop break out for 18 points in the second half and leading all scorers with 23 for the game.
Smith, Manitoba's marquee player, was a non-factor in the game. Coming into the final, she was averaging 28.5 points and 12 rebounds per game, but the Vikes managed to contain her, limiting her output to 19. The Bisons' other top gun, Kelly, was covered closely by Koop and though Kelly did get loose for 13 points, it wasn't enough.
The back-breaker for Manitoba came with a little over a minute remaining in the second half when Brooke was sent to the free-throw line. She nailed two critical free throws from the charity stripe to give the Vikes a 64-56 lead. Manitoba charged back, cutting the lead to five points, but it was too little, too late as the Vikes claimed the national title with a 66-61 victory.
Victoria head coach Kathy Shields was ecstatic after her team's effort.
"I'm thrilled, just thrilled. I think our team played tremendous defence. Our game plan was to try and contain Smith and Kelly. The whole team did a tremendous job."
She was also happy that Brooke was honored as tournament MVP.
"[Brooke] kept us poised, she organized us. She got the ball over through their press and just kept us sane," Shields said.
An emotional Brooke said she wasn't intimidated by the Manitoba defence coming into the gold medal game.
"We handle our defence every day in practise and I think our defence is the best in Canada. That prepared us really well," said Brooke. "We maintained our poise; we led throughout, so we just had to maintain that cushion and play tough defence."
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