Thriller sends Laurier to nationals
On Saturday, the Wilfrid Laurier women’s basketball team defeated the Carleton Ravens to grab the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) bronze, and in return, received a trip to Windsor for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship — and they did it in stunning fashion.
The Hawks and Ravens battled hard for four quarters, but it was not enough, as they were taken into a first, and then a second overtime where Laurier finally prevailed 70-65 over the Ravens.
For the four seniors — Doreen Bonsu, Bree Chaput, Laura Doyle and Kim Yeldon — it means a few more games in the Hawk uniform. Fourth-year Whitney Ellenor was thrilled with the win.
“We have had a lot of injuries, so to be able to come back from all of those and compete as hard as we could was great, and to win it in double overtime is always super exciting,” she said.
Head coach Paul Falco summed up what the win meant for the team.
“For us it means meeting another goal. At Christmas we added the goal of being ranked in the final eight at this time of the year, which obviously means you’re going to nationals. And then to win in that fashion is obviously very exciting.”
A close game has not been a rarity for the team this year, as they have had remarkably close games against numerous teams including McMaster, Guelph, Queen’s, Brock in the OUA quarterfinal and Western in the OUA semifinal. It has provided some nervous moments for the players and coach Falco.
“We wouldn’t mind winning by a little more … we have played a number of teams that we are closely matched with,” said Falco.
“It just shows how competitive each team is and how every game you have to come bringing 100 per cent or else you are not going to win,” said Ellenor.
“I think it comes down to who really has the bigger heart and who wants it more,” said second-year Kaitlyn Schenck.
For Schenck and Ellenor, it is their first time heading to nationals, however the four veterans on the team went in their first year, which is a huge factor for preparation.
“Experience in this league is huge. They are able to draw that experience and share what they have learned with their younger teammates,” Falco said.
“It feels pretty amazing, especially with the group of girls we have this year,” Ellenor echoed.
The Golden Hawks are seeded eighth out of the eight teams, which means they’ll have to play top- ranked Windsor, who they lost to in the OUA West final 86-58.
“We have to be ready to play anybody at this time of the year, so we are going to work hard to prepare for Friday night’s game. For us the big thing is to look at the first game, take it one at a time and to be better than we were last week,” Falco said.
The players have a strong approach to the nationals, which start on Friday, and are as ready as ever to knock off the top team.
“Everyone is pretty positive right now, we are coming to work hard this week and prepare as much as we can,” Ellenor said.
“I think that the attitude is we are coming in to play, and we are coming in to hopefully get some wins,” said Schenck.