By Woodard, Dale on February 7, 2020.
So what series of events has to take place this weekend for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s basketball team to get a home playoff date?
Solving complex algebraic word problems might be easier.
Either way, the Horns will take a shot at it and wrap up their Canada West regular season schedule tonight and Saturday when they host the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack at the 1st Choice Savings Centre.
Game time is 6 p.m. tonight at 5 p.m. Saturday.
As for the scenario that will allow the Pronghorns to snag that eighth seed that will land them home play-in date? Well, pick one, but it will have a lot to do with the teams directly in front and behind them.
The Horns head into the final weekend in ninth place at 9-9. The UNBC Thunderbirds – also 9-9 sit in eighth, having won six straight.
Directly behind the Pronghorns are the 8-10 Regina Cougars.
So while the Horns can do themselves a big favour by scoring a sweep over the 7-11 WolfPack, a home playoff day may not entirely hinge on that depending on what the Timberwolves and the Cougars do.
“There are many variables that come in to play,” said Pronghorns head coach Dave Waknuk. “Even a sweeping isn’t a guarantee to host. We may need some help. It depends on some results. Us sweeping is an important piece of it, but it’s not the whole piece, depending on what else happens.”
The Timberwolves host the (2-16) MacEwan Griffins tonight and Saturday and the Cougars are in Abbotsford to take on the Fraser Valley Cascades (14-4).
Canada West reseeds the top 12 by RPI for playoffs.
In the Canada West playoff format, the top four teams get a first-round bye while the fifth-through-eighth-place teams host a one-game play-in.
Still, thanks to a sweep over the Griffins last weekend in Edmonton, the Pronghorns have cemented their playoff spot, wherever that may be.
“I think we’re obviously excited to be have the playoffs locked up for the third year in a row and I think it’s a good sign for our program that there was no major celebration,” said Waknuk. “It’s expected at this point. But we all know from last year the power of having a home playoff game and the advantage is that it gives you. Obviously, that is the outcome goal for us, for sure. We want to get two wins and hopefully the chips fall where they can where we can host a playoff game and that will hopefully sets us on a roll.
Last season, the Pronghorns hosted, an won, their play-in game with a 99-60 win over the Manitoba Bisons.
That set the stage for a quarter-final sweep of the Alberta Pandas before falling in two straight to the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West final four.
But no matter where they’re ranked heading into the playoffs, now is the time to peak.
“Ultimately at this time of the year we’re just trying to find our best quality of basketball,” said Waknuk. “That has been our goal since the start of the semester and of course I want to win both (games) this weekend and of course we want to host, (but) I think we are just trying to clean some things up and be at our very best whoever we play next week.”
Saturday night will also mark senior night where the women’s basketball program will honour graduates Asnate Fomina, Kacie Bosch and Katie Keith following the game.
The trio of graduates lead the Pronghorns this season with Bosch and Fomina leading in scoring average with 15.9 points per game.
Bosch moved into eighth on the Pronghorns all-time scoring list last weekend with 818 points and sits 26 points behind former Pronghorn Stephanie Hlady for sixth place.
Katie Keith, who leads the Pronghorns in rebounding this season with 9.3 per game will finish her career second on the Pronghorns all-time rebound list. She enters the weekend with 675 rebounds. She is also 17 points behind former teammate Zoe Dahl for ninth place on the Pronghorns all-time scoring list.
“I think the legacy they leave behind is they’ve changed our program for the better and they are a major reason for having things like three consecutive playoff appearances and being someone who can host a playoff game for two years in a row,” said Waknuk. “Those three are the foundation of what our recent change has been and I think all three of them as competitors, as athletes, as teammates and as people set the bar really high for everybody in the organization and everybody going forward with the program. I think that is their legacy and trying to prepare for their final weekend I think is very hard to put it into words. I think that says a lot about their impact. You can’t summarize it easily. At all three of them in their own way have left a legacy of positive growth and change and will have left their impact on this program.”
Both games will also be streamed live on http://www.canadawest.tv.
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