After the Heat’s Volleyball teams took home Gold Medals last weekend, the Basketball teams hope to repeat a similar fate this weekend as the Columbia Bible College Bearcats host this year’s Provincial Championships. The teams hit the road Wednesday morning, with their first games in the Quarterfinal rounds on Thursday.
The 3rd place Women’s team, the defending BCCAA Champions, will play the 6th place Langara Falcons in their quarterfinal matchup. The Heat won both previous meetings with the Falcons by double digits, mostly due to a suffocating trap defense that forced a lot of turnovers, taking advantage of the team’s speed and athleticism on the break. “That will be a part our game strategy [again],” said Head Coach Heather Semeniuk, “but also we push the ball well and transition from defense into a fast paced offense in the full court so we will do that again as well.”
5th year guard Jenna Kantz excels in the open court and will be leading a lot of the team’s fast break opportunities. Kantz, named a 1st Team All-Star, led the league in assists (5.35 apg) and finished 3rd in scoring (20.24 ppg). A dynamic playmaker and prolific scorer, she was the only player in the league to average at least 20 points and 5 assists per game. Roslyn Huber, the Heat’s 4th year Post player, led the league in rebounding (12.24 rpg) and placed 6th in scoring (13.94 ppg) en route to her 2nd Team All-Star nod.
Size could play an important role, with the Falcons bringing a bigger frontcourt than the Heat. UBC will have to look out for Carling Muir, Langara’s 1st Team All-Star post player, who put up 14 point and 9 rebound numbers during the season (ranked 5th and 4th, respectively). The Falcons also boast a strong pair of rookies in guards Rhea Silvestri and Angela White, who both made the All-Rookie team. The Heat are healthy and ready to do some banging, though, with Coach Semeniuk confirming that the team is finally “All good.”
The Men, heading into Provincials as the 4th seed, will face the 5th place Douglas Royals in the first round on Thursday. The Heat came away with W’s for both meetings against Douglas (back-to-backs in Kelowna), but neither game was a cakewalk, with the second game being forced into an overtime period. “I’m sure Douglas will come out with something to prove,” said Heat Assistant Coach Cary Mellon, noting that although the Heat have the confidence that they’ve beaten the Royals before, a one-and-done playoff game with the Royals cannot be taken lightly, especially with playmaker Drew Slaught running the show- Slaught, a 1st Team All-Star, finished league play in 3rd and 5th for scoring and assists, averaging 19.7 and 4.7, respectively.
The Heat boast a pair of All-Stars, with 4th year guard and Captain Alex Roth named to the 1st Team, and rookie sharpshooter Micah Cockrill to the 2nd Team, as well as the All-Rookie team. Roth is currently dishing out 3.5 assists per game, 8th the league. Though not an overly big team, the Heat’s post players never shy from going to work in the paint, with 3rd year Post Steve Morrison grabbing just over eight rebounds per game (3rd in the league), and both he and center Simon Pelland have a lot of banging with the League’s other big men in store en route to a medal. “Simon…is finally healthy and can be a matchup nightmare for most teams. Look for him to be a barometer of our success this weekend.”
Perhaps most important to the Heat’s success, however, is the contribution from their bench, who have consistently come out and been a deciding factor in close games, with players like 2nd year guard Dan Briscoe hitting big shots in the clutch. “We definitely rely on our bench for scoring and we do that by design,” added Coach Mellon. “[Briscoe] can really light it up at times and although he comes off the bench at the start he is always on the floor at the end of the game.”
The Royals are perhaps the least of the Heat’s obstacles en route to a medal, though. If they win against Douglas they’ll have to play VIU in the semis, who are the number one team in the country. If they survive the Mariners, UBC will then likely play 2nd place UNBC, who have reigning BCCAA Player of the Year Inderbir Gill, a league superstar averaging 21.3 points and 5.2 assists per game (2nd and 3rd, respectively), the only player averaging at least 20 and 5. Potential matchups with both VIU and UNBC are far from the coaches and players’ minds as they travel to Abbotsford, however. “A lot of things need to happen for us to play [either team]” said Coach Mellon. “[We] won’t give it much thought until then.”
Tip off for the Women’s game is scheduled for 1:00 pm Thursday, with the Men’s game to follow in the evening at 8:00 pm at Columbia Bible College.