The basketball season is officially underway for the St. Mary’s University Lightning teams in what was a busy weekend of action that saw all Lightning athletics teams in action. The basketball teams faced a tough travel schedule, opening season competition in Medicine Hat and Caronport, Saskatchewan, while the cross-country team travelled to Camrose, Alberta for the final Grand Prix of the season.
Cross country was competing in the 5th and final grand prix race of the year before Provincial Championships on Oct 27th in Vermillion, AB. Our women’s cross country team has been having a strong season thus far securing historic firsts for the program all year. Presently our women’s team is nationally ranked at 15th in the country in a very strong conference that features six of eight programs in the national ranks. This weekend on a very challenging course the women’s team Anchored by second-year Education student Rebecca Johnson finished in 5th place edging out the host Augustana Vikings and nationally ranked 13th team by two points. Strong finishing kicks by 3rd year Kim McEwan (Psychology) and 1st year Karen Vandenborre (Psychology) were vital to the Lightning’s placement.
“The goal for Provincials is seasonal best performances by all and improved team placement, the women definitely have a shot at being a top three team,” said Donna Dixon, Head Coach of the Lightning Cross-Country team. “With everyone competing at Provincials both our men’s and women’s teams have the capacity to surprise and move up in the team rankings.”
The 2018-19 basketball campaigns began in what may be the hardest road trip of the year for the Lightning as they travelled to face a strong opponent in the Medicine Hat Rattlers on Friday night.
The Women’s game was a rematch of the 2017-18 Championship game which saw the defending champion Lightning tip-off against Medicine Hat in their home opening game came out with a lot of energy and high intense defensive pressure. The high energy and intensive pressure wore down the Lightning coupled with a poor shooting performance, saw the night go to a strong Rattlers squad 78-56.
In the Men’s game the Lightning came up against a very strong, athletic, and high energy opponent in the Rattlers. Poor shooting, rebounding and carelessness with the basketball saw the Lightning men in a hard fought battle against an aggressive Medicine Hat squad. A spirited half-time discussion led the Lightning out of the break determined to show who they were in the second half by keeping it even with the Rattlers for the final 20 minutes of play. Ultimately the poor start to the game did them in, with the Lightning men falling 87-65.
The play of third-year forward Issac Amsing provided a rare bright spot for the team, leading the men in scoring with a strong performance of 6-9 shooting for 15 points.
Saturday saw the teams travel to Caronport Saskatchewan to take on the Briercrest Clippers with both teams determined to make up for the action the night before and neither disappointed.
Our Women came out focused and ready taking the lead after the 1st quarter 19-14 and did not look back winning each frame of the night to an eventual 86-61 victory. Strong play from the starting lineup and a much improved shooting performance were the keys. Four of the Lightning starters scored in double digits on the night to help propel them onto victory, with Emily Wagner leading the way with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists.
Once again the men had a slow start to their game but a finish saw the men secure their first victory of the young season with a spirited win over the Briercrest Clippers. The men, challenged by Head Coach Nathan Ruff to step up their defence saw them enter half time with a 42-33 lead. After half the men came out strong playing a strong team game and never looked back finishing the game with a commanding 89-63 victory. Strong play by fifth year guard Cordell Minnifee (Liberal Arts) who finished the night with 21 points and third year forward Jordan Britton (Psychology) who added 20 points to lead the way for the Lightning.
Up next for Lightning athletes is the Basketball home-opener on Friday Oct 19th at Glenmore Christian Academy, where our Lightning take on cross town rivals the SAIT Trojans. Game times are at 6 p.m. for the women and 8 p.m. for the men.