This season, the St. Thomas women’s basketball team is looking to get the only medal that has eluded them at the CCAA national championship.
They started where they left off, delivering a pounding to the University of Kings College Blue Devil in the first day of the Ken Gould Invitational Tournament this weekend. The Tommies won that game 89-58. Kelly Vass kept up her fast pace, getting five steals and 22 points. Carissa McTague had 15 points and eight rebounds in that win. Laura Anderson had 10 points and tied for the most assists with Vass.
Anderson is in her fourth year on the team. As a Tommie she has won a bronze and silver medal at the national tournament, and won the ACAA conference championship all three of her years in the green and gold.
“I’ve already got the other two medals so a nice gold one would top that off,” said Anderson.
The team won the silver medal last year at nationals, but the squad has a bit of a new look this year. The team lost Ashley Bawn who finished her storied five years of eligibility. They also lost Lindy MacDonald, who hit the game winning three to get the Tommies their silver, as well was McKenzie Balser.
But other players are looking to step up and be clutch. Maggie Murphy, who’s only in her second year on the team, hit a three that gave the Tommies the lead in the final minute, when they played the Holland College Hurricanes. That three and some free throws gave them the 61-58 win.
They will also bring in four rookies. Jessica Patenaude had one season at UPEI where she didn’t play as she was red-shirted. Tori McCarthy from Leo Hayes High School will be suiting up for her first season of university ball for the Tommies, as will Sara Banks from Riverview and Jayme Hunt from Woodstock.
Another pleasant surprise for the Tommies is the return of Katelyn Carver, who went down in playoffs last year with a knee injury. Now she is back earlier then expected, and able to play meaningful minutes for the Tommies in all three games.
Anderson said the new players will have to understand what it takes to be a top team in the nation.
“They need to get into the Tommies rhythm and get used to our style of play and definitely us returners need to keep in mind the goal of that medal when adversities happen,” said Anderson.
The Tommies also beat the Mount Alison Mounties, winning that game 70-59. It was nice for the Tommies to win all three games on the weekend, but Tommies head coach Fred Connors says that’s not what the weekend was about.
“I’m glad we won. It’s good for the girls, but it’s how we got there that’s more interesting to me,” said Connors. He says they’re good when their energy is up and when they have confidence, but when that drops off he feels they get into trouble.
Connors agrees a gold medal at nationals would be the goal, but they aren’t going to fixate on that now.
“We’re just going to focus on getting ready for the season opener,” said Connors.
Their first game comes Nov. 1 when the Tommies rematch against King’s College at St. Thomas.
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