June 24th, 2024

Kodiaks women’s basketball team takes stock of upcoming season

By Dale Woodard on July 31, 2021.

It was as much a chance to see who’s coming back as it was who’s coming in for the Lethbridge College Kodiaks women’s basketball team.

As they prepare for their 2021 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season after the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kodiaks held their ID camp last weekend at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.

For new head coach Ken McMurray, who takes over the reins for Deanna Simpson, the one-day camp was a chance to see what he’ll be working with when the season tips off in the fall.

“We had 14 kids,” said McMurray. “We were a little late to doing the ID camp. In terms of COVID, we never knew when we could do one and when things opened up we figured we would try to do one. I was late coming to the table as far as being the head coach, so we needed to do something to try and get a few more players.”

McMurray, who is also the principal at Cardston High School, officially took over as head coach at the end of June when Simpson announced she was stepping down to focus on her family and career.

McMurray spent the 2019 season a co-coach alongside Simpson.

After last season was sidelined due to the pandemic, some of the players from the 2019 team had made the decision to move on this year.

“Last year’s roster was pretty strong and when I contacted each of the girls to try to figure out what the situation was in terms of coming back this year, there were a few girls who had moved on,” said McMurray.

“It was disappointing because I thought we had a core I could’ve done some really good things with last year. But it is what it is, there was no season last year and some of the older girls decided to move on and that’s fine, that’s what life’s about. So we’re kind of starting over again. We have a few returnees, but we’re trying to recruit some kids from southern Alberta, especially. So that was the purpose of the ID camp.”

There will, however, be some familiar faces back for 2021.

Matlin Jacobs – McMurray’s daughter – is back, as is Catriona Smith, who has battled an ACL injury the past few years. Montana Berezay is another returnee.

Kirsten Barwegen remains a question mark as she explores some career possibilities.

“We’re just waiting to see what will happen there,” said McMurray.

“If she does (leave), obviously we will wish her well and have her chase her career.”

Looking to fill some roster spots as new players are the likes of Jorja Gates and Chase Wells-Creighton.

“She was a newcomer last year and looked like she was going to do some good things,” said McMurray of Wells-Creighton.

Taylor Ralph and Carly Blackmore from Magrath are other up-and-comers for the Kodiaks.

“I think she’ll be a really good contributor, she’s had a really good high school career at the post,” said McMurray of Blackmore.

There was another recruit for McMurray, this one on the sidelines and Emily Greeno steps in as an assistant coach.

“She’s going to be perfect to work with because when you are a point guard you have to know everybody’s role,” said McMurray. “So she has a good mind and I think she’s going to be a great coach. So I am excited to be working with her.”

With the ID camp wrapped up, the Kodiaks are working with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s basketball team for some scrimmages.

“There aren’t too many girls who are all in the Lethbridge area, so it’s pretty tough to get a full slate of girls out to scrimmage,” said McMurray. “So we’re teaming up with a University in Lethbridge who only have about three girls in town, too. So we are trying to do some scrimmages once a week for the next three weeks or so. Then when it gets closer to the end of August most of the girls who are from out of town will hopefully be coming to school and then we can start things up in the first part of September.”

No matter who is back or who’s new this year, McMurray said it’s good to be back after the cancelled 2020 season.

“I think the girls are just excited to play again and we’re really excited to get back at it.”

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