The Cape Breton University Capers Women’s Basketball team took advantage of playing on their home court to win their second straight Atlantic University Sport championship this past weekend here in Sydney. The Capers defeated the third seeded St. Mary’s Huskies 69-60 in front of a sold out Sullivan Field house Sunday afternoon to book their ticket to the Canadian Interuniversity Sports National Championship which is being held at McMaster University in Hamilton, March 12-14.
The Capers came into the tournament as the number one seed, sporting a 19-1 record. They were an impressive 11-0 at home and needed to keep that undefeated home streak alive in order to repeat as AUS champs.
The first day of action saw St. Mary’s squeak by sixth seed Acadia by a score of 64-63 and Dalhousie surprised the fourth seeded St.F.X. X-Women by outscoring them 22-6 in the fourth quarter to eventually win by a 59-52 score. This set up semi-final matches between the second seed Memorial Seahawks and the Huskies, with Dal pegged to play the hometown Capers.
AUS Rookie of the Year and the front-runner for CIS Rookie of the Year, Justine Colley, lead St. Mary’s with a whopping 38 points as the Huskies defeated the Memorial Seahawks by a score of 77-56 to earn their spot in Sunday’s final. The hometown Capers looked to AUS MVP Kelsey Hodgson to lead them into their semi-final versus Dalhousie and she did not disappoint. Hodgson dropped a 28 piece, including a 17-point third quarter where she battled through an on-court injury to lead the white and orange to a hard fought 61-56 win over the Tigers. Dal had real trouble against the Capers’ disciplined, full-court defensive pressure and, in turn, the contest slipped away from Dal, despite having lead the game at the half.
Sunday’s championship game saw both St. Mary’s and the Capers battle back and forth for the first three quarters. The teams were deadlocked at 50-50 going into the fourth quarter where the Capers turned it on to close out the game, out-scoring the Huskies 19-10 in the final quarter. The home side really seemed to benefit from the first round bye and looked much fresher than St. Mary’s coming down the stretch.
“The first round bye was key in the fourth quarter against the Huskies,” confirmed AUS coach of the year Fabe McKenzie. “We seemed to have good legs under us and SMU may have been a little bit tired from playing three games in three days. All the hard work we put in this year really paid off in that last quarter.”
With the Capers and the Ottawa Gee Gee’s being the only two teams who have punched their tickets to the National championship so far, it is uncertain where the Capers will sit in the eight-team tournament.
“We could be seeded anywhere between number three to number six, depending on what happens across the country, so we are playing the waiting game now,” stated McKenzie. “To be successful there, we must really focus on our team defense and rebounding. It will be real important for us to work some kinks out over the next two weeks.”
Besides boasting coach of the year (McKenzie) and AUS player of the year (Hodgson), the Capers showed great team depth with guard Nikki Works of Bible Hill being named the top defender in the AUS. Kari Everett and Hodgson were also named as First Team All-Stars for the AUS. Tournament All-Stars were Justine Colley and Kelsey Daley from the Huskies, and Hodgson, Everett and Karmen Brown of the CBU Capers with Everett also taking home tournament MVP for the AUS finals.