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Women's Basketball News Update
It was a story of triumph for the undersized and unsuspecting #4 seeded Providence Lady Freemen who upset the #1 seeded University of Winnipeg College Wesmen to advance to the MCAC Championship final. MCAC Communications Coordinator, John Gaudes, put it best, “...there wasn’t expected to be any room on the podium for Cinderella… [but] the slipper fit for the Providence Lady Freemen, and they pulled off what many thought would be impossible.”
The story begins Friday afternoon (March 3rd) with the College Wesmen team facing off against Providence. Coming in, the Wesmen had only one loss for the season while the Lady Freemen had had their share of defeats. With sizable losses to the College Wesmen in the past, the Lady Freemen knew their Final Four encounter would not be easy.
Head Coach Patti Parker explains, “We knew they [the University of Winnipeg] would be tough to defend inside, but also have some dangerous sharp shooters. Our strategy was to play man-to-man and really rely on our help defense. We aimed to enforce the intangibles, like “boxing out”, so that we’d keep them from any second scoring chances.” And evidently, following through with these goals, Providence kept the usually high scoring College Wesmen to 51 points.
Dominating the boards, Brynn Swan (Edmonton, AB) had a record number of 17 rebounds, while Captain Mel Warkentine (Winkler, MB) and Christine Parker (Winnipeg, MB) added 8 rebounds a piece. Swan and Warkentine brought in 14 and 11 points, respectively, while Kristi Larson (Gardner, ND) had 12 points and 5 assists for the game.
A bright spot for the team was Parker who made huge defensive stops on one of the College Wesmen’s top scorers (Brittany Boudreau) and also contributed 9 points and 3 steals. Parker was recognized and picked up Player of the Game.
Advancing to the finals, the Lady Freemen faced the incredibly athletic Red River Rebels who had home court advantage and had defeated Providence by 40 points in their last contest. With belligerent Rebel fans and an exciting atmosphere, the Lady Freemen put up a strong fight against the Rebel’s high-pressure game. Coach Parker adds, “In this game, our main focus was to eliminate Red River’s fast break points and to really pack the paint against their bigs.”
Providence went down by 10 at the half but fought to stay there. They were only able to close the scoring margin to 8 in the second half with the help of Warkentine’s clutch 3-pointers. Eventually the Rebels’ full court pressure and height proved to be too much for the Freemen as they fell 51-68 at the final buzzer.
For the game, Parker contributed 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals, as well as had a big impact on the team’s 15-6 run after going down 10-0 to RRC at the start. First year Breanne Mahara (Fannystelle, MB) was deservedly awarded Player of the Game for her scrappy defense and perseverance throughout the final. Mahara brought in 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 steals for the night.
Brynn Swan should be recognized for her standout performance for the entire weekend. Barely 5’9”, Swan was the team’s acting center and played stellar defense on both the College Wesmen and Rebels’ 6 footers; making huge stops in the paint and outrebounding them on many occasions. For the Championship final, Swan hauled in 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Also stepping up big time this weekend was Providence’s point guard Kristi Larson who handled much of the opponents’ ball pressure. Unsurprisingly, Larson was recognized at the Awards Banquet Saturday as an MCAC All-Conference Winner for her work this season.
Congratulations to the Lady Freemen for defying the odds with their finish as MCAC Finalists.
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