BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
The Laurentian University womenÃ‚'s basketball squad are poised for another crack at an OUA championship. TheyÃ‚'re already the fifth ranked squad in Canada, according to the CIS.
Last season, the Lady Vees compiled a 17-5 record. Led by high-scoring guard Tierney Hoo, who averaged 16.14 points a game, CIS Rookie-of-the-Year Cassandra Carpenter, and a group of smart, skilled players, the Lady Vees were an almost unstoppable force, until the playoffs.
The team disposed of QueenÃ‚'s University in the first round. In the OUA East Final, the Lady Vees fell to the University of Ottawa Gee Gees, a team they had beat twice in the regular season.
With the bitter taste still lingering, the Lady Vees are steadfast in their commitment to win a coveted championship.
The squad lost two key veterans to graduation in Cara Dodsley and Carolyn Plummer, and Christal Blanchard left the team because of knee injuries.
Ã‚"We had quite the turnover in the off-season,Ã‚" said head coach Mike Clarke, Ã‚"but we have some good players coming in.Ã‚"
Rookies Shannon Chellew and Vanessa Jakola, both from Sudbury, and ChathamÃ‚'s Jessica Ross will be counted on to fill the gaps.
The Lady Vees core will be made up of four fifth-year players, including last yearÃ‚'s leading scorer Hoo, Brianne Henry, Caitlin Blackadder and Kate Walker. The four will form the foundation for the team to lean on during the season. The foursome will be joined by an impressive collection of
second-year players, including Carpenter, Ashley MacSporran and Christianne Bauck.
Ã‚"We want to win a championship, play to our full potential and have no regrets,Ã‚" said Henry. Ã‚"WeÃ‚'re all hard workers and we have great team dynamics.Ã‚"
There will be plenty of eyes on Hoo, who has the chance to reach 1,000 career points, and take over the all-time OUA career scoring lead. She has 976 career points, and is 384 points away from the overall career lead.
Ã‚"I will give it my best shot,Ã‚" said Hoo. Ã‚"Now that I am close, I want to accomplish it.Ã‚"
Carpenter, 20, will also be relied on to put up points. As a rookie, she finished as the 10th leading scorer in the OUA and was the fourth-leading rebounder.
Clarke expects a balanced attack from the team on both the offence and defence.
The team is eager to win a championship.
Ã‚"An OUA Championship is what we are gunning for because our fifth year players have won the regular season every year, and now itÃ‚'s time for more,Ã‚" said Clarke. Ã‚"I think they are ready to win.Ã‚"