CCAA Women's Basketball Championship

CCAA Women's Basketball Championship

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

64-2.

That is the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) regular season record of the Lethbridge Kodiaks the last three years.

In 2014-2015 sparked by their ACAC record of 22-2 and ACAC championship, they dribbled into the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women's Basketball Nationals held in Nanaimo, British Columbia, reaching the final only to fall to the College Montmorency (RSEQ) 63-54 in the gold medal match.

In 2015-2016 the Kodiaks would go 21-0 in ACAC regular season play but would have to settle for a bronze in the ACAC playoffs, failing to qualify for the CCAA.

At the start of the 2016-2017 campaign, Koidaks head coach Brad Karren said that the Koidaks had "some unfinished business."

The first step was to win the ACAC title.

With a prefect 21-0 record they beat the St. Mary's Lightning 85-54 in the ACAC final to return to the CCAA show which would be held just up the road March 15 - 18, 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta with the host NAIT Ooks also part of the eight-team three-day 13 game slate.

Their first game at these CCAA nationals Thursday was a convincing sweep of the (PACWEST) Douglas Royals 99-44.

Sunder West led the way with 26 points.

"Once we got the lead, which was nice, we got to do some things that we normally do not do," said Kodiaks coach Brad Karren, who the evening before was named CCAA Women's Basketball Coach of the Year at the CCAA Awards Banquet. "We were able to play everybody, run some different plays but we still have not run everything. We have a lot of good shooters and the nice thing is that you can't key on just one player as they are unselfish and distribute the ball."

In their semi-final matchup against the Nomades de Montmorency (RSEQ) it was a much closer, affair, make that a nail biter as the Kodiaks won by a slim 74-70 margin.

Montmorency had advanced with a Thursday 75-58 opening victory against the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics (ACAA).

With the Kodiaks up by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, the youth of the Nomades, featuring a few future NCAA Division I recruits including Mael Gilles, slowly crept back into the contest but the composure of the Kodiaks held.

West had 23 points and six boards while Logan Moncks and Emma Lowry notched 22 and 21 points respectively

"We kind of lost our focus coming into the third and sometimes when we get up that much, we kind of slack off a little bit. Having them come back just made us realize that we had to work harder," said Emma Lowry. "It was a challenge. They were taller and with tallness come longer strides and they could keep up with us."

"They are long and that is what gave us trouble as we couldn't get to the rim as we usually do." said Karren. "We had to work it around the perimeter and bring out their post."

Dawson Blues would be there opponent in the gold game. Dawson had advanced to the finals having beat Holland Hurricanes 74-60 and NAIT Ooks 68-55.

It was a defence with a hustle and an offence with a muscle from start to finish as the Kodiaks fast broke to an 81-57 gold medal.

Sunder West displayed an all-around game with 22 points, five steals and three assists, one of which came off a 360 degree dribble and pin point past, perhaps the prettiest play of the entire tournament.

"It's a great feeling," said Karren, while watching his team celebrating the win by singing to the tune "We are the Champions" played on the gym speakers. "The girls played great defence tonight."

NAIT OOKS

NAIT Ooks opened on home court Thursday night with a victory over the defending champion Humber Hawks (Ontario Colleges Athletic Association) in an exciting 55-52 final in front of a full house at NAIT Gym.

In a high-intense matchup, Ooks largest lead was at 5:09 of the third with a 12-point spread 38-26 on a Jordan Enns jumper.

With what seemed a comfortable nine point edge at 3:14 remaining on an Enns free throw, the Hawks went on an eight-point run; a Hawks' Chioma Oriuwa free throw narrowing the Ooks lead to 54-22 with only 28 seconds on the clock.

Free throws by Katie Waring and Enns secured the W.

Ooks' Centre Torey Hill logged 38 minutes scoring 13 points while adding 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Katie Waring assisted with 13 points.

Hawks were led by two-time CCAA Player of the Year Ceejay Nofuente with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

"We have been working for this and to do this on a home court was a dream and we kept fighting to the end, " said Hill.

"We had some fortunate breaks with some shots that fell and some that didn't, "said Ooks head coach Todd Warnick. "The chance to be on our home floor with a crowd like this was amazing. The gym was packed and there was energy and the fans did a great job coming out to support is."

In their semi-final match the Ooks came up against the Dawson Blues falling 68-52.

Shea-Lynn Noyes had 15 points in the loss.

In the bronze medal semi-final Saturday the Ooks were tied with the Douglas Royal 52-52 with 2:12 remaining. The only made shot for the remainder of the game would be a Jordan Enns basket with one second on the clock for a 54-52 Ooks win.

In the bronze medal game against the Humber Hawks, despite a supportive home town crowd, the Ooks would fall 72-48.

Shea-Lynn Noyes led the Ooks with 15 points.