The 7th seeded, Trinity-Western Spartans made program history last week at home winning their first-ever Canada- West playoff series by beating Brandon Bobcats in three games. The Spartans road to winning a Canada-West championship does not get any easier as they will travel to Regina to play 2nd seeded, Regina Cougars in CW quarter-finals starting Thursday. The two teams met on November 25th- 26th at Langley Events Centre in British Columbia. The Cougars swept the series winning 57-51 in game one and 85-47 in game two.
Spartans vs. Cougars preview–
The Spartans entered the Canada-West postseason with a record of 12-8 and ended the season losing their final two games against UBC Thunderbirds. The Cougars ended the regular season with a record of 17-3 and won their final two games against Thompson Rivers Wolfpack.
The Spartans averaged 68.3 points a game and scored 1,366 points (6th in CW) during the regular season. The Spartans had a FG% of 40.0 % which was fourth in CW. Lastly, the Spartans were fantastic from downtown as they had 3PT Pct. of 32.6 % which was third in the conference. Spartans’ key scoring threat during the season was third-year forward, Tessa Ratzlaff. Ratzlaff averaged 16.7 points a game (4th in CW) and scored 318 points during the regular season. She was second in CW for field goals making 130/ 258 shots. Ratzlaff during the Canada-West play-in games against Bobcats averaged 15.0 points a game and scored 45 points in the three games. In the first two meetings against Regina, Ratzlaff scored six points in game one and seven points in game two. The other key scorer on the team is fourth-year forward, Kayla Gordon who averaged 14.1 points a game and scored 282 points during the regular season. Gordon also had 54 offensive rebounds. Lastly, Gordon led the conference in FG % with 53.2%. Gordon during the three game series against the Bobcats averaged 15.3 points a game and scored 46 points (3rd in CW). She also had 24 rebounds. In the first two meetings against the Cougars, Gordon was limited to six points in game one and four points in game two. The Spartans’ main threat from downtown was third-year guard, Jessie Brown. Brown during the regular season led the CW in threes made with 61 and was third in 3PT Pct. with 42.1 %. Brown during round one of the playoffs was cold from downtown only making one of her 10 three-pointers and had shooting percentage of 10.0 %. Brown in the first two meetings against Cougars had 12 points and made two threes in game one. Brown scored 15 points including five three-pointers in game two.
The Cougars led the Canada-West in scoring as they averaged 75.1 points a game and scored 1,502 points in 20 games this season. The Cougars finished third in FG made during a game with 26.3. They had a FG % of 38.5 which was 7th in conference. The Cougars led CW in 3PT made during a game with 6.9 and had 3PT Pct. of 31.0. The key scorer on the Cougars was fifth-year Ontario guard, Katie Polischuk (KP3). Polischuk averaged 15.7 points a game and scored 313 points during the regular season. KP3 is the Cougars’ record holder for threes made in a career with 239. She was second in CW for threes made with 56. Polischuk though was 8th in Canada-West for 3PT Pct with 36.4. In the first two meetings against the Spartans, she scored eight points including two three-pointers in game one and then in game two, she had 11 points including one three. Rookie Winnipeg guard, Kyanna Giles had some kind of first year for the Cougars. She averaged 12.9 points a game and scored 258 points in 20 games. She was fourth in CW for 3PT Pct. with 41.2 and made 21 threes during the regular season. Lastly, she had 145 rebounds. In the first two games against the TWU, Giles scored 11 points including one three in game one and in game two, she had 12 points including one three-pointer.
The Spartans allow 67.1 points a game which was ninth in Canada-West. They also allow opponents to shot 40.2 % which was 15th in the conference. The Spartans though are great at guarding the three-pointers as opponents shot 28.5 % from downtown (6th in CW). The Spartans average 18.5 turnovers per a game which was sixth in Canada-West. Ratzlaff led the team in defensive rebounds with 87 and blocks with nine. Fifth-year shooting guard, Natalie Carkner led the team in steals with 42. So far after round one of the playoffs, Gordon has stepped up on defense as she currently leads the conference in steals and blocks. She has 11 steals and five blocks. Lastly, Gordon is second for defensive rebounds with 20.
The Cougars were first in defense during the Canada-West regular season as opponents averaged 52.8 points per a game. The Cougars also were fist in opponents’ field goal percentage with 30.3 %. The Cougars finally were first in guarding the three as opponents shot 25.2% from downtown. The Cougars averaged 16.8 turnovers per a game which was fourth in CW. Giles led the team in defensive rebounds and steals. She had 94 defensive rebounds and 42 steals. Third-year forward, Christina McCusker led the team in blocks with 32 and was second in Canada-West.
I expect the Regina Cougars to sweep the series unless Spartans trio of superstars find ways to score. It should be a fun matchup for those who love the three ball as two top sharpshooters, Spartans’ Brown and Cougars’ Polischuk in Canada-West will go head to head,. The Cougars were 9-1 at home this season.