Women’s basketball at .500 and showing their claws

Diane Schuetze goes up to tip possession the ‘Pack’s way to open the Jan. 6 match at the TCC. PHOTO BY CORY HOPE

Nathan Crosby, Sports Editor  Ω

During the third quarter of a Nov. 5 game against UFV, Kailey Colonna fouled out and had to watch the WolfPack women’s basketball team win their second game over the Cascades from the bench.

“I want the playoffs,” Colonna said. This is her final year of her career wearing orange and black, along with forward Michelle Dimond and guard Kaitlyn Widsten.

After beating up Manitoba and Winnipeg in the first weekend of January, Colonna’s goal of taking this team to the post-season is inching towards a reality with a 5-5 record.

“It’s funny, you never think about the end but now there are a single digit amount of games left in my career,” she said.

“We’ve waited five years to make the playoffs and we feel we have the group that can take us there.”

The fifth-year forward was thrilled her team beat the then-overrated number-nine-ranked Fraser Valley Cascades twice in the opening weekend back in early November.

The ‘Pack had meanness in their game and Colonna, despite her one-too-many fouls, was one of the main reasons UFV ran back to Abbotsford shocked and scared.

That WolfPack meanness lost its mojo in November.

The next weekend against Calgary the ‘Pack committed 25 personal fouls and lost their first game of the year, 76-61 to the Dinos.

The next day, the team got on the bus and travelled down Highway 2 to Lethbridge, poised to beat the vulnerable Pronghorns.

The offence dried up and the ‘Pack went into a four-game losing streak that included a forgettable road trip to Victoria that put the ‘Pack’s record at 2-4. It had erased that perfect weekend against UFV.

“The games that are going to haunt us are the two Victoria games and the Lethbridge game,” Colonna said.

Not wanting to go into the Christmas break on a downward skid, the ‘Pack were able to run over the Brandon Bobcats 114-58 on Nov. 25.

The next night, they came close to beating the number-one-ranked Regina Cougars, losing by five points, which included a last-minute “gimme” basket by Regina.

Optimism for 2012 was higher thanks to a hard-fought weekend against the class of the CIS.

“Our first game (Nov. 4 vs. UFV) was still the best game we’ve played this season,” Colonna said.

“That is good and bad, I guess, because we have a lot of potential that I don’t feel we lived up to completely. Our last game (Nov. 26 vs. Regina) was our second-best and I think we then found our place again.”

Colonna has a mean edge to her game that resembles a wolverine more than a wolf.

She always sticks out in the defensive end as a 6’2” sheriff who will do anything to wrestle the ball out of the opposition’s hands.

She is the unsung hero of a women’s basketball team that sits with a 5-5 record at the halfway point. She is a nightly candidate for the Leader of the Pack award because of that meanness and polarizing presence in the paint against the best in the Canada West. She has been a loyal member of TRU’s growing athletic community her entire career.

Her belief in her teammates to get through the tough second half is strong because of what she has seen her rookie players do on the court.

It was the Nov. 25 game against Brandon when rookie guard Jade Montgomery exploded off the bench for 19 points.

“Jade finally had an opportunity to show what she can do. She’s such a good offensive player,” Colonna said.

“Our rookies and our team dynamic is probably the best it’s been in the five years I’ve been here. Taiysha (Worsfold) plays much older than she is and I think that’s because she’s been a prodigy of Scott’s for so long.”

TRU’s offence ranks second in scoring averaging 75.1 points per game. They are the first team in the Canada West to score more than 750 points this season.

Defence ranks near the bottom in scoring, tied for third-last with Lethbridge with 68.2 points allowed per game.

Following the ‘Pack’s thrashing of the Bobcats, the 58 points they had allowed against Brandon wasn’t forgotten in the post-game interview with TRU head coach Scott Clark.

Defence will have to be tightened up this semester if Colonna and the ‘Pack are going to get that playoff game, said Clark.

Offence clearly isn’t a problem, thanks in part to the most feared post in the division, Diane Schuetze.

She is the number-one scorer in the Canada West with an average of 19.6 points in 10 games. Guard Jen

Ju is fifth, averaging 15.3 points per game. Schuetze is first in rebounding, averaging 10.3 per game.

Forward Tracy Kocs is in the top twenty with 5.9 per game. Second-year guard Jorri Duxbury is third in assists.

Kristjana Young of UBC, who will be paying the Tournament Capital Centre a visit this weekend when TRU hosts the 6-2 Thunderbirds, comes into the weekend second only to Schuetze in points, averaging 19 per game.

After that, the ‘Pack are off to take on the 7-3 Alberta Pandas in Edmonton and the 5-4 Saskatchewan Huskies in the same weekend. The ‘Pack will then have a much-needed bye week at the end of January before heading to Langley for a weekend series against the 4-6 Trinity Western Spartans.

The ‘Pack finishes the regular season with a home and home battle with the 2-6 UBCO Heat.

TRU is tied for the wild card spot with Winnipeg and Victoria and will need a healthy starting line up if they are going to get through a tough January to play past February.

“Part of the reason we all came this way and why I am still here is because of the ties we formed in first year. I hope because we have a big recruiting class this year that can grow together,” Colonna said.
She has eight regular season games left in her college career to rally her team and bring some claws to the Canada West as the WolfPack make the push to the playoffs.