by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The Windsor Lancer women’s basketball team is vying for their sixth national championship in program history and got their preseason underway with a pair of contests at the St. Denis Centre this past weekend.
The Lancers began the weekend with an 86-58 victory over the CCAA champion Humber Hawks and followed up with an 80-54 win over their OUA conference counterparts, the Brock Badgers.
Head coach Chantal Vallée said it was the first time the program hosted preseason games at the St. Denis Centre and was happy to be able to play in front of their home crowd early in the year.
“We got to display our product on the floor before we go to Toronto and B.C.,” said Vallée. “I like my team, the depth of our team. I like how responsive the girls were and I really like the leadership of the team so far. All of our returning players have done well performing and leading the team.”
Last season, a youth-led Lancers worked their way to the OUA bronze medal match, where they defeated the McMaster Marauders 68-58. With another year of experience, under their belts, Vallée believes her 2016-17 squad will be much different.
“I feel like it is night and day from last year,” Vallée said. “We had nine recruits and it was a bit of a disastrous four months. We have some starters and our sixth man out with injuries so when we get them back I think we are going to have a very good club. We can definitely challenge for some titles.”
A familiar face to the Lancers program was found on the opposite bench during their contest with the Badgers. After spending time as Vallée’s assistant coach, Ashley MacSporren took over heading coaching duties of the women’s basketball team at Brock.
“I’m so proud of her,” Vallée said. “When the job came up she applied and we helped her with the application and interview. When she came here her goal was to learn from me and become a CIS coach. It came earlier than what I would have liked but we’re really happy for her.”
Earlier in the summer, Vallée announced the commitment of five standout recruits to the Lancers women’s basketball program for the 2016-17 season. Arianna Milani, Mildred Okoko, and Olivia Starling are three local played who join the Lancers from the JUEL leagues Windsor Valiants. Kayah Clarke comes to the team from the Hamilton Transway while forward Logan Sims transferred to Windsor from St. Louis, MO.
“I’m really impressed with them, they listen, they’re smart so they remember things,” Vallée said. “They’re very coachable and they want to compete. At this point, that’s all I can ask from them.”
The Lancers will travel to the Victoria, B.C. to take part in the UVictoria tournament. UVic will also serve as hosts of the 2017 CIS championships and Vallée said that is precisely the reason why they are going.
“We want to look at the facilities and see how everything is going to turn out,” said Vallée. “We’re excited to play there.”