Trinity-Western Spartans poised for breakthrough in second-half

Kayla Gordon TWU

Trinity Western Spartans last Saturday night, January 7th had their biggest win of the season as they handed Winnipeg Wesmen their first loss of the season with a 72-68 win.   Wesmen who at the time were ranked number nine in the nation. The victory over Wesmen for the Spartans was exactly what the team needed to start the second-half of the year. Last season was a disappointment year as the team won their final four games to earn the final playoff spot in the Canada-West as they post a record of 8-12.

The Spartans had an exciting play-in series against the Victoria Vikes which saw the two teams split games, forcing a third and final game which saw the Vikes win, 62-44.  The Spartans this season are a different team as they have record of 7-5 which is good enough for seventh in the Canada-West. A big reason for their success this season has been the great play of their trio of scorers, fourth-year forward, Kayla Gordon, third-year guard, Jessie Brown and third-year, Tessa Ratzlaff.

The Spartans had up and down first-half to the Canada-West season. They started the year strong winning their first three games with back to back wins over UBC Okanagan Heat and University of Frasier Valley Cascades. The team then split with University of Northern British Colombia (UNBC) Timberwolves and were swept by nationally ranked, Regina Rams. The Spartans though did end 2016 winning their final three games with a sweep of Lethbridge Pronghorns and exhibition game against Thompson Rivers Wolfpack.

The team is ninth in Canada-West for scoring as they average 64.9 points per a game after 12 games. Scoring was something the team lacked last season as they averaged 63.2 points per a game in 20 games. A majority of the scoring last season came from Gordon, Brown and Ratzlaff. Gordon averaged 12.3 points per a game and 246 points in 20 games while Brown averaged 13.7 points per a game and 273 points. Lastly, Ratzlaff led the team in scoring as she averaged 14.2 points per a game and 283 points. Ratzlaff also led the team in rebounds with 133 and Gordon was second with 101.

This season, things have not changed as Ratzlaff leads the team in scoring and is fifth in Canada-West averaging 17.7 points a game and has scored 195 points after 11 games. She also has 76 rebounds. Ratzlaff twice this season has had a double-double, the first one occurred against UBC Okanagan Heat on November 4th where she had 19 points along with 12 rebounds in a 68-60 win. The second double-double came against Lethbridge Pronghorns on December 2nd where she had 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 74-64 victory.

Ratzlaff in six of her 11 games this season has scored more than 20 points. Her best game of the season came against Winnipeg Wesmen last Friday night, January 6th where she had 31 points in a 90-65 lost. Lastly, she leads the Canada-West in shooting making 80 of her 154 shots. Brown is second on the team in scoring as she averages 13.5 points per game and has scored 162 points in 12 games.

She also has 33 rebounds. Brown had her best game of the season against UNBC Timberwolves on November 18 as she had 21 points in a 68-61 win. Brown lastly leads the Canada-West in threes with 33.  Gordon is third on the team in scoring as she averages 12.3 points per a game and has scored 147 points in 12 games. She also has grabbed 75 rebounds. Gordon is fourth in Canada-West for FG PCT with 50.4%.  Gordon had her best game against Winnipeg Wesmen last Saturday night as she scored 23 points in the 72-68 win.

With Brown, Ratzlaff and Gordon leading the TWU, there is a great chance that the team could finish the season with a 12-8 record or even better. The Spartans do not have an easy schedule to end the season as they will likely be tested by Victoria Vikes and UBC Thunderbirds.

There is a no doubt that the Spartans could be a team to watch in the second-half and in the playoffs.

The Spartans after their big win last Saturday night, hope to continue their winning ways against University of Manitoba Bisons in a two-game set starting on Friday night. The Bisons have struggled this season posting a record of 1-9.