For the third year in a row, it’s a Saskatchewan showdown to determine who the best women’s basketball team in western Canada is.
The University of Regina Cougars and University of Saskatchewan Huskies find themselves in a familiar game with the Canada-West championship on the line. The Huskies have won the past two championships, defeating the Cougars both times.
The Cougars last conference title win came back in 2013, with their first being in 2004.
Cougars head coach Dave Taylor said the team isn’t thinking about the past few match-ups.
“Every year in a snapshot is kind of different and we have to look at it like that.”
Taylor said the title is going to come down to who plays the better game that day between the two provincial rivals.
The two teams have faced each other three times this season thus far, with the Cougars winning the regular season series 2-1.
“We’re going to know what each other is doing, we’ve both got good scouts on each other, and we’ve played each other recently.”
One of the players the Huskies will need to contain is Carolina Goncalves, who was named the Canada-West Rookie of The Year.
Kyanna Giles with the Cougars and Sabine Dukate with the Huskies were both named Canada-West first team all-stars this season.
Both the Huskies and Cougars have been dominating the women’s basketball ranks this year, with the U of R being the second-ranked team in the country and the U of S being sixth. The Huskies won the national title two years ago.
The Cougars swept the Calgary Dinos to reach the finals while it took the Huskies three games to put an end to Trinity Western.
This is the ninth time in 12 seasons coach Taylor has gotten the Cougars to the finals. This will mark the Huskies fifth straight appearance in the game.
Despite not sweeping the opposition, Huskies player Kyla Shand said they believe in themselves and their chances at a third Canada-West championship.
“We’re never perfect, there’s always stuff to improve on but I think that we’re a very strong team, especially when we play very successfully together and move the ball really well,” Shand said following game three against Trinity Western Saturday.
Taylor said both schools have a strong grassroots program and have done well with recruiting players from across the country and internationally.
“The thing a lot of people might not know is that on-paper this might not be changing, in the next couple of years, we’re probably the favourites, the two of us the next couple of years in Canada-West so we could be on a run where we see each other here for a few years.”
No matter which team wins the championship, neither will have time to rest with the USPORTS Final 8 Tournament being held at the U of R. Both teams have already qualified.
“It’s awesome to know right now we’re going to nationals, to know that we’re competing for another Can-West banner, to know that we’re getting a chance at a national championship, we’ve booked our ticket we get a chance now with an extended period of time to prepare for that first round match-up,” Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis said Saturday.
As for Taylor, he said their focus remains on the Canada-West final.
“There’s only two times this year that you have a chance to win a banner that goes up in your gym forever and this Friday’s one of them so it’s a big deal.”
Tip-off for the Canada-West final is at 7 p.m. at the U of R’s Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport.
The USPORTS Final 8 Tournament gets underway March 8.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated the Cougars had last won the championship in 2004. They won a second title in 2013.