Great Season For Women's Basketball
The Lakeland Rustlers women's basketball team set the program's standard in almost too many things to count, but they ultimately fell short of their goal.
The Rustlers finished 14-6 during the season, good for second place in the North Division. They hosted the quarter-final series, they won a playoff game and forward Amanda Carlton had a women's single game record of 39 points – all new records at Lakeland, but the Rustlers couldn't get past a veteran SAIT Trojans team in the best-of-three ACAC quarter-finals. After winning the opening game by 15 points – 63-48 – the Rustlers dropped Games 2 and 3 and were eliminated from the playoffs, losing the series 2-1. Rustlers head coach Chris King said
“I'm proud of the girls, I thought they played really well. The first game, we played extremely well and dominated that game. The last two games, I didn't think we played very well due to the fact they were really physical with us, they bumped us a lot and got away with a lot of things that don't happen in the regular season,” King said. “I thought our girls were very tentative against them. That was kind of the difference, they (SAIT) seemed to want it more and were physically aggressive with us.”
After their 15 point win, the Rustlers lost Game 2 63 - 54 and Game 3 69 - 61. King said he wasn't taking anything away from SAIT, nor was he disappointed in his team's play, but there were times when his team didn't execute as well as they usually do. In the end, it wasn't one thing that made the difference, but a few things added up and cost the Rustlers.
“Rebounds and turnovers – we turned over the ball about 30 times in Game 3, pretty much every second time we had the ball and that was due to the fact they just had their hands on us, hands on us and our girls aren't used to seeing that and I didn't think we did a great job fighting through that,” King said.
After a near perfect Game 1, the Rustlers slipped in Game 2 and King said he thought his team could build from the fact that even though they didn't play their best, they still had a shot to win that game. The plan was to bring that fact into Game 3.
“Game 2 I was really disappointed in, I thought we were bad all around, but we still had a chance to win and I told the girls that during the game. If we stick with our game plan we'll have a chance to win and we did, it was a tie game with three minutes left,” he explained.
And while they did come out strong in the first half of Game 3 and led at the end of each of the first two quarters, it was SAIT who picked things up in the second half and came away with the victory.
“Game 3, I thought we controlled the first half and had chances to push the lead a bit more. We shot the ball well, it was just turnovers and rebounding. When they were opening, they hit shots,” King noted.
For King, it was hard to look at all the positive things his team did throughout the season immediately following the series loss, but he listed all the impressive accomplishments the team recorded and said those are all things the 2011-12 Rustlers women's basketball team can be proud of.
“I'm extremely proud of the girls. A 14-6 regular season, we've never had a winning season here at Lakeland, that's a record. First home playoff game, that's a record, finishing second is a record, winning a playoff game is a record – there's a tonne of records to look at,” he said. “I'm proud of the girls that they did it the right way, they worked hard and this group has something to look back on and this is a group that will hopefully turn the corner for our Rustlers athletics in women's basketball.”
King admitted that he thought the 2012-13 season was going to be the big breakout year for Lakeland, but now that the Rustlers have had a taste of the playoffs in two straight seasons, next year should be even better.
“I thought next year we would be in this spot, so we're a little bit ahead of schedule. Last year we lost out in the play-in game, this year we got a little bit further to the quarter-finals and it will be a great lesson to the girls and they'll come back even more motivated for next year,” King said.
Courtesy: Robb Fenton