Women perform well in Winter Classic tournament despite missing top scorer

After finishing the 2011 Kwantlen Winter Classic with a 1-2 record, the women’s basketball team was pleased with their weekend performance.

By Josh Saggau

Oxana Senyuk drives the lane to put away two points in the Eagles win over the Columbia Bible College Bearcats in Kwantlen’s Winter Classic. Senyuk was named as one of the torunaments all-stars. KYLE BENNING/THE RUNNER

After finishing the 2011 Kwantlen Winter Classic with a 1-2 record, the women’s basketball team was pleased with their weekend performance.

“I was pretty happy with [our performance]. Our focus was on our energy and playing hard for 40 minutes and I think we did that,” said head coach Matt McKay.

While the Eagles didn’t dominate the weekend tournament, coach McKay was pleased with the team’s effort. They kept every game competitive, all without their leading scorer, Taminder Dhaliwal, who was nursing a sore knee.

The team opened play on Thursday night with a disappointing loss to the Quest Kermodes 68-47. The 19-point loss was much closer than the score suggested. Kwantlen was hanging with the Kermodes until midway through the third quarter when Ruth Thanert – named a tournament all-star – single-handedly scored eight unanswered points to extend the lead.

“I don’t think the score was indicative of how close the game was. We missed some free throws, had a couple defensive breakdowns where we were just a little slow on our rotation, but I definitely think the game was a lot closer than the score. I think overall we did a really good job at both ends of the floor,” said McKay.

The Eagles followed up that tough loss with a dominant performance against Columbia Bible College on Friday night. Kwantlen got contributions from almost every player that hit the floor en route to an 89-54 victory.

The team looked much more confident against the Bearcats, probably because the Eagles already held two wins over them in regular season play.

Leading the way for the Eagles was a 20-point effort from Samantha McPhail. Five Kwantlen players hit double digits for scoring in the game.

“We came in with a goal of playing hard for 40 minutes like we had on the Thursday, and focussing on some of the things we did well in that game… and I think our confidence just grew as the game went on,” said McKay.

Kwantlen’s final game of the weekend would prove to be their toughest challenge of the tournament. Despite having lost three straight games, the Langara Falcons managed to take down the confident Eagles with a 65-52 victory.

The game against the Falcons was the first that really highlighted how much the Eagles missed Dhaliwal over the weekend.

Despite points from eight different players, there was no standout on the Eagles’ offense; third-year forward Chantelle Doerksen led the team with 11 points.

Meanwhile, Langara’s Carling Muir – named the tournament’s most outstanding player and all-star – was unstoppable as she led her team to victory with 18 points. The Eagles just had no answer for Muir in the paint.

The Falcons also got 12 points from both Stephanie Scott, who was named one of the tournament all-stars, and Rhea Silvestri.

Still, a 1-2 record isn’t bad for the Eagles without the injured Dhaliwal, who has been averaging close to 15 points per game this season.

The Eagles also had rookie forward Oxana Senyuk named one of the tournament’s all-stars along with Thanert, Muir, Scott and Sharece Thoutenhoft of Columbia Bible College.