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Rustlers women’s basketball wins ACAC, heading to nationals

By March 16, 2022No Comments
The Lakeland College Rustlers womens basketball team celebrates a win on Friday night at the Lakeland gym. This was a special win for the team as it secured their spot at the CCAA nationals. Taylor Weaver Meridian Source

 

It was an exciting weekend for the Lakeland College Rustlers womens basketball team as they won the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) finals and secured their spot at nationals.

The Rustlers were in the same situation after winning the 2019/2020 ACAC finals, only to have their shot at a national title taken away with the cancellation of the tournament due to COVID-19.

With that in mind, for the majority of the team, including head coach, Chris King, this has been a long time coming.

He said the ladies played their hearts out this past weekend, beating SAIT 60-41 on Friday night to secure their trip to Nanaimo, B.C. for nationals, which are being held from March 25-27.

“The girls were awesome tonight. We had a really slow start to the first quarter and SAIT made us pay for that, and good on them. We knew they were that type of team,” said King.

“I thought in quarters two, three and four, we locked it down defensively. We still weren’t great offensively, but we did enough to get the job done, so I was happy about that.”

Friday night’s display of athleticism was a precursor for the action to be seen in the Lakeland gym on Saturday night, as the team beat NAIT 74-49 to win the ACAC title.

 King may be a humble coach, but he has set the bar fairly high for his players, as he knows what they’re capable of, as well as how hard they’ve all worked to get to where they are right now.

“We want to win this. We’re not content with just getting there, we want to make sure we have a shot to be the champs, and that’s where we want to be,” he said. “If we play like we did in the second half, we’ll be fine, and I think we’ll have a really good shot. 

“I think our expectations internally are very high. Our first goal was we wanted to make sure we were hosting the ACAC finals, so we had to be first in the north, which we did. 

“We wanted to make sure we were in the final, which we did, and the next one is winning our conference. We’ve checked a few boxes, but we’ve got a couple more to go.”

“We’re going to nationals, and we’ve never got to go, and as I said to the girls, this is a bit of unfinished business from 2019. I’m really happy for the girls in the room that get to go, and the other girls get to experience this for the first time. Lots of these athletes will play their whole career and never get that shot, so it’s pretty exciting,” said King.

Friday night’s win was a big one for Rustlers point guard and fifth-year player, Tori Dugan, who will be returning to her home country of Australia to play pro next season. 

“We’re going, finally,” she said. 

“I’m just so proud of the way we fought in the second half. We faced a lot of diversity in the first quarter, and we wanted to win all four quarters, so after we lost the first one we knew we had to come back and win the last three. And you could tell they were deflated as soon as we went on a run.

“Just to be able to fight through that and to get back what we’ve earned, I couldn’t be prouder.”

The team has also been under the watchful eyes and cameras of Two Fold Films for the past 18 months for their upcoming documentary titled “Second Bounce.”

The film follows the team through the highs and lows since the cancellation of the 2020 nationals and the mental health aspects that came with it.

“It’s really special that this year we have a camera following us around and get to document it,” said King.

“I don’t think they realize how unique this situation is; that their lives are going to be on TV and they’ll get to look back 20 years from now and actually watch it on TV.”