While the NAIT Ooks women’s basketball team didn’t get the hardware they wanted, 2015 still ended on a high note. The Ooks went 2-1, finishing fifth at the 2015 ACAC Women’s Basketball Conference Championship. This marked the first time NAIT hosted such an event, and the presentation reached the high expectations. The Ooks began by losing a heartbreaker against the Olds College Broncos in the quarter finals, 77-79 in double overtime but responded by winning 69-44 and 57-46 over North Division rivals Keyano and Augustana. NAIT ends the year 22-5, the best record in the history of the program.
The event started with a banquet held by the Fresh Express, recognizing the accomplishments of several gifted individuals in ACAC women’s basketball. Ooks Shea-Lynn Noyes made the Second All-Conference Team and Torey Hill made the First All-Conference Team. Player of the Year went to Lethbridge’s Ali Cameron. NAIT’s first matchup was against the Olds Broncos and their powerhouse of players including Renetha Burton and Danesia Williamson, who came into the game averaging 17 and 23 points, respectively. A battle ensued on this Thursday matchup as both teams were deadlocked and one team could not get a healthy lead. However, that soon changed as NAIT maintained a lead of 16 points in the third quarter but was immediately stopped by Olds’ First All-Team Conference player, Marie Lupe, who had a game high 25 points. The game went to two overtimes before NAIT lost. Torey Hill of NAIT grabbed a doubledouble for her performance and was named Player of the Game for her team. The second matchup for NAIT was against fourth-place North Division finisher Keyano Huskies. Keyano managed to keep the game close but eventually NAIT’s strength took over and they were able to command a 15-point lead going into the second half, which Keyano was not able to overcome. Shea-Lynn Noyes was named Player of the Game with a game high 24 points. NAIT played their rivals Vikings and a lot of bad blood was visible. Augustana and NAIT traded buckets for a while and no team seemed to show an advantage early until NAIT outscored the Vikings 16-2 in the second quarter. The Vikings shot a dismal 17 per cent from the field in the first half, with much of that frustration following them into the second half.
The Ooks continued to pound the Vikings and push their lead even further in the third quarter, due to a large part by rookie Leah Vandenboogard coming off the bench as Noyes got into foul trouble. Augustana began to play extremely well in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Ooks 16-5, but the lacklustre performance they had in the second quarter eventually came to haunt them. Vandenboogard picked up Player of the Game with her seven points. Lethbridge Kodiaks were crowned the ACAC champions with a win over the SAIT Trojans. Olds Broncos took home the bronze with a win over Lakeland. With the Ooks’ fifth-place finish, this also marks the end of Robyn Gibson and Chantel Haier’s tenure as Ooks players as this is their fifth year.
By HUNTER JOHNSON