February 21st, 2024

Kodiaks women’s basketball to lean on depth this season

By Lethbridge Herald on October 17, 2023.

Herald photo by Justin Seward Lethbridge College Kodiaks' Kitawna Sparks goes for a lay up during practice on Tuesday.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge College Kodiaks women’s basketball team will look to their existing and new additional depth to carry them through a new Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season.

“Well I was excited about our two big recruits in Hannah Helton and Jocelyn Neilson,”said head coach Ken McMurray.

“I mean they’re two kind of veteran players of ACAC and to get them and add them to our already existing pretty deep line up, just makes us that much tougher. So, yeah, the first four exhibition games have been good for us and then Augustana on the road was a nice win to start things off.”

McMurray said anytime you can bring in another quality forward like Jocelyn Neilson, that adds to your depth quite a bit.

“Last year, we were a little bit lean on the post side of things and so adding her and Brook Hardy from Cardston, and Gabby Graves from Raymond gives us a little more depth at the post position,” said McMurray.

“And of course adding Hannah Helton just adds us that much more scoring ability on the guard side. And so ,with that, along with a young team last year and giving them another year of experience, I just think makes us that much more experienced and kind of over the jitters of a first year. And so, I think a lot of girls are confident in each other, and they genuinely like each other and they’re genuinely happy for each other when each other does well. So I’ve seen that and that chemistry is big as well.”

Returning  player Kitawna Sparks will be bound to be  a force on this team.

“Kitawna’s definitely a beast down low ,and she runs the rim so well and she a lot of times beats the other team’s post down the court,” said McMurray.

“And so last year, our best offence was just pitching the ball forward, and looking for her to come down the pipe and post up early and we’re looking for that again. And that along with her inside presence  and posting up is something we’re going to be looking forward to from (her.)”

McMurray will look to team depth for success.

“I think we’re against teams that are the same us or as talented as us,” said McMurray.

“I think our depth is going to help us win those games down the stretch. I think in the fourth quarter we’re going to see our depth kind of really help us ,because I feel really comfortable playing 10 people right now, and I’m not afraid to put them on the court and they’re all doing their job right now.”

The roster consists of six returnees and six rookies.

Third-year player Courtney Deemter said it’s really fun, when asked about having new players.

“It’s nice to always have new girls,” she said.

“They’re all  excited to come and excited to play. So that’s really fun and then having the six returners. We have all like played with each other before. So that brings kind of some comfortability to the team and also some experience too playing at this level. I think the older girls are able to like lead a little bit more and like get the younger girls into it a bit.”

She hopes to lead in the sense of having the rookies look up to her.

“I think like just yeah leading like positively and like do my best to like be a good role model on the floor too with like attitude and skill,” said Deemter.

The Kodiaks are off to a good start to the season after beating the University of Alberta- Augustana Vikings 83-65 on Saturday.

The women’s basketball home opener goes Friday against the Ambrose Lions at 6 p.m.

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