Tommies head to semi-finals at CCAA nationals

It was a fight to the very end in the CCAA women’s basketball quarterfinals between the St. Thomas Tommies and the Champlain St. Lambert Caviliers. St. Thomas came into the game second overall, while Champlain was ranked seventh.

The Cavaliers are the hosts of this year’s women’s basketball nationals, and had a feisty crowd cheering them on. At one point Tommies head Coach Fred Connors had to move his timeout to the court, as the fans were making noise up behind the STU bench.

“The first timeout I looked up and thought I was coaching a men’s team,” said Connors. “They were very close and very loud, but were classy about everything and great sports after the game.”

The Tommies had to battle back from being down 11-5 in the first quarter. It was all about defense as neither team was able to score with any consistency. The Tommies shot 18 per cent in the first half, but came back to lead by five at half.

“It was ugly, but we battled through it,” said third year guard Kelly Vass. “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”

Vass was named an All-Canadian player on Wednesday night. She led her team with 14 points while dishing out five assists, but it was her defense that was the major factor. Vass finished with seven steals.

“Our defense sparked out offense, but we knew it all had to stem from defense,” said Vass.

Champlain made a strong run in the third to take the lead going into the final quarter, but STU’s experience came up big. The Tommies fought back, and won 58-50. That puts the Tommies into Friday’s semi-final game, where they play the Algonquin Thunder at 9:30 p.m.

“They are very balanced and well coached. It is going to be a great game,” said Connors.

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