Volume 96, Issue 78
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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The "Heckler's" mission foiled

By Brian Cox
Gazette Staff

Niru Somayajula/Gazette
TAKE A GOOD LOOK PEOPLE. This is the heckler. He sucks.

Heckling is an art, but when you travel with your team for their last game of the season, and you know their playoff dreams are an L.A. Clipper-esque fantasy, "heckling" crosses the line into twisted obsession.

Western's women's basketball team quieted the University of Lakehead's one-man travelling peanut gallery on Saturday night, en route to a sentimental victory in front of friends, family and onlookers. The lone heckler rained a multitude of taunts on a veteran Western squad, but the Mustangs held their composure in a 80-70 coast at Alumni Hall.

After a frustrating loss, Lakehead coach Bob Main was more concerned about addressing the officiating than the money likely forwarded to his team's professional trash talker.

"[The officials] had trouble with consistency [in their calls]," he lamented. "Although that, in itself, did not determine the outcome of the game."

Main commented on the strong performance of Lakehead centre Robyn DeGray, who at 6'3", dwarfed all of Western's tallest defenders.

"Her 19 points and 14 rebounds were a big asset," Main said. Of course, her ability to bench-press a U-Haul didn't hurt either. Throughout the game, the Thunderwolves threw DeGray an effective lob pass over-the-top of fronting Mustangs forwards. All she had to do was turn around Shaq-style and lay it up.

Beth Kerim/Gazette
AT LEAST THE WOMEN WEREN'T EMBARASSED. Western forward Joanne Chehade "dude-slaps" a Lakehead player, just like the men got dude-slapped by Lakehead.

But despite a remarkable individual effort, it simply wasn't meant to be on this night. After a half-time ceremony marking the end of five distinguished Mustangs careers, Western's squad would not be denied. Team leader Joanne Chehade, whose 18 points bettered her season average, was surprised by the emotion involved. "You don't think [the ceremony] is going to be a big deal. But when it happens, and all your teammates and family are there to congratulate you, it means a lot," she said.

Other Mustangs receiving congratulations from a grateful program were guards Michelle Crowley and Sarah Lercara, and forwards Lindsay Kennedy and Jennifer Grebeldinger.

Looking ahead to the OUA playoffs, the Mustangs will host the University of Windsor in a first round playoff match.

Chehade said she liked her team's chances in the second season. "We're all healthy, and being ranked third [in the OUA West], there is a lot less pressure to win."

Lercara mimicked her teammate's optimism, voicing "no preference over who [they] would like to play."

No matter who the opposition is, it should be a raucous affair tomorrow night when the Western faithful, seeking refuge from mid-terms, converge at Alumni Hall.

As for the heckling, hopefully the Mustangs will let their game do the talking.

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2002 THE GAZETTE