Gunning for gold next season

Laura Anderson (center) in a game earlier this season (Kelsey Pye/AQ)
Laura Anderson (center) in a game earlier this season (Kelsey Pye/AQ)

The St. Thomas women’s basketball team made history on Mar. 15 when they won the team’s first silver medal on the national stage. The Tommies have competed for a medal the three previous years, but this is the best they’ve done.

“It’s crazy to think about how different our year has been compared to every other year,” said Laura Anderson, who has been with the team three years.

They started with 14 players, but by the end only had 10. This was worsened when post player Katelyn Carver got hurt at the beginning of ACAA conference playoffs. They were also handed their first league loss in a long time, as the team had been on a 98-game win streak prior.

Still, the year was the strongest for women’s basketball. Tommies Coach Fred Connors hopes the success won’t stop there.

“We don’t want this to be a miracle run. We want this to be the norm,” said Connors. “We’ve been to four straight national championships and we want to get back for a fifth one.”

The team will be losing Ashley Bawn, who has played for the Tommies for her full five years at STU. The former St. Thomas Athlete of the Year brought a lot to the team, and Connors thinks it would be pointless to try and refill her shoes.

“You don’t replace her. You find another way.”

Connors is going to miss Bawn’s defensive presence, as well as communicating on both ends of the court. Bawn made the pass to Lindy MacDonald for a game-winning three-pointer in their semi-final game at nationals.

“That’s a totally typical Ashley. She finds a way to beat you and you have no idea she’s even beaten you,” said Connors.

Bawn is the only player who won’t be able to come back. The rest have more Tommie time left.

“Everybody has told me they’re coming back,” said Connors.

Anderson thinks that returning players, as well as their national experience, bodes well for the team.

“I think this made us 110 per cent more committed,” said Anderson.

Nine players are returning from a silver medal team. Hilary Goodine and Kelly Vass were both tournament all-stars at nationals for the Tommies. The two, along with Anderson, will be entering their fourth year. Additionally, Connors hopes to bring in some fresh talent. He has a specific idea of what players he wants on the team.

“Mobile universal-type players that can play all five positions, and get up and down the floor and defend tough,” said Connors. “For us it’s about toughness and we want players who really want to get after this.”

He already has at least two players who are likely to be on the roster next year.

“I’ll probably be doing an announcement in the next little bit about those two.”

The Tommies are poised for another strong showing. In conjunction, because of the Tommies’ silver medal at the CCAA national tournament, STU’s conference will once again get the wild card spot. That means the two teams from the conference will be going to nationals next year.

“As far as preparations for next year, we need to get Kate in and get surgery on her knee. Then once that’s done I think we’re going to be in a great spot.”

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the women’s basketball team won the school’s first silver medal on the national stage. However, the men’s basketball team won silver in 2004. We apologize for any inconvenience. 

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