Women’s hoops team great ambassadors for Saskatoon
|The Huskies storm the court after their Canada West title win.|
You have to love it when good people become national champions, and there are a lot of people that are happy for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team.
On Sunday in Fredericton, N.B., the Huskies captured their first Canadian Interuniversity Sport title downing the Ryerson University Rams 85-71. On the U of S campus, the Huskies women’s hoops team is popular due to the fact they pretty much go see all the other Huskies teams play whenever they get the chance, and they are involved in various community activities.
They are all extremely personable and genuine, so there were definitely a large number of smiles on people’s faces on campus and in Saskatoon who watched the Huskies lift the Bronze Baby championship trophy on television.
For head coach Lisa Thomaidis, the win was a reward that was a long time coming for almost two decades of hard work. The Ontario product, who is also the current head coach of Canada’s senior national women’s basketball team, became the Huskies bench boss in 1998, when the U of S women’s basketball program was at one of its lowest points. The idea of even being in a national final almost seemed impossible and even laughable.
The Huskies weren’t often a first choice destination for hoops players in Saskatchewan. The University of Regina Cougars were an elite powerhouse team back then like they still are now, and they would win a national championship in 2001.
|Dalyce Emmerson (#13) is an all-time Huskies great.|
Thomaidis’s task was to prove Saskatchewan was big enough for two elite women’s university teams. She succeeded in spectacular fashion and also earned the reputation as being one of the best coaches in Canada in any sport.
She mirrored one thing the Cougars were excellent in as far as recruiting goes. You find players that are good people first, who also happen to be good athletes.
After three seasons, the Huskies were respectable and qualified for the post-season for the first time in 18 years. In 2006, they appeared at nationals for the first time under Thomaidis’s guidance after winning the Canada West title. The Huskies were now a powerhouse.
This season, the Huskies won their third Canada West title in six years. The squad is full of players that are outstanding individuals you would do anything for.
Making their eighth trip to nationals in the last nine years, the Huskies finally had their day in the sun. In all three rounds of the CIS final-eight tournament, the Huskies encountered adversity, but always answered the call and posted a solid win.
Second seeded U of S dispatched the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 73-62 in the quarter-final round and downed the St. Mary’s University Huskies 65-58 in the semifinal round.
In the title game, U of S met the challenge of a high-temp and high-scoring Rams team. The Huskies trailed 22-18 after the first quarter, led 42-40 at halftime and rolled to a convincing win from that point.
|Kelsey Trulsrud nails a free throw.|
Fifth-year starters Laura Dally, Kelsey Trulsrud and Dalyce Emmerson played the entire 40-minute match for the Huskies.
Dally, who was the most valuable player of the Canada West conference, topped the Huskies with 25 points, which included hitting four shots from three-point range. Trulsrud, who is a scrappy guard that stands 5-foot-9, added 14 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and picked up three assists.
Emmerson, who might be the best post player the Huskies ever had, added 14 points, 12 rebounds, five blocked shots, two assists and two steals in the winning effort. She averaged 18.7 points and 15.7 rebounds per game in Fredericton.
Latvian rookie point-guard Sabine Dukate was also a force in the final hitting four shots from three-point range, while recording 22 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. She filled a huge hole that was left when point-guards Kabree Howard and Riley Humbert graduated from the program last season. Howard stayed on with the Huskies this season as a graduate assistant coach.
The rest of the Huskies roster is rounded out by first-rate people like fifth-year post Taya Keujer, Desarae Hogberg, Madeline Humbert, Sascha Lichtenwald, Megan Ahlstrom, Megan Lindquist, Kassidy Konkin, Vera Crooks and Janaya Brown.
When you meet these players in public, you immediately want to go to their games. They are also great role models for any young girl that has a dream of one day playing at the CIS level for the Huskies.
|Laura Dally drive the lane for the Huskies.|
In the present, it now seems unthinkable that the Huskies winning a national championship was an impossible dream.
All the alumnae that played on the Huskies before the current CIS winning title squad had a hand in pushing the bar higher and higher to ultimately make what happened on Sunday a reality. Alison Fairbrother and Jacqueline Lavallee were part of the dark days as players and enjoyed a national title win as assistant coaches along with program newcomer Megan Pinske.
After a standout 18-2 regular season, the Huskies went 7-0 in the post-season.
Their time was now, and a national championship victory had never been more deserved.
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