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Last-gasp playoff push
Five years is a long time to spend chasing a goal without reaching it.
There are three fifth-year players on the TRU WolfPack women’s basketball team at risk of finishing their careers without experiencing Canadian Interuniversity Sports playoff basketball.
“We sat down with our younger girls and said we’re going to ask a lot of you this year because we want those few more games in our lives,” said Kailey Colonna, who along with Kaitlyn Widsten and Michelle Dimond make up the WolfPack’s graduating class.
“I think they know what it means to us.”
It seemed everybody got the message on the weekend, with the WolfPack sweeping a two-game set at the Tournament Capital Centre against the Fraser Valley Cascades, who are ranked ninth in the nation.
TRU topped Fraser Valley 68-64 on Friday, Nov. 4, and 65-59 in overtime on Saturday, Nov. 5.
The WolfPack were on the brink of playoff basketball last season, posting a program-best but not-quite-good-enough 9-15 record.
“It was hard because we put in all the work in the first half of the season and the idea that I might never make playoffs in my years, and to come that close, was disappointing,” said Colonna, a 6-foot-2 forward from Invermere.
TRU head coach Scott Reeves, entering his sixth year at the Pack’s helm, has recruited and developed a team that might take the next step this season.
The disappointing end to the 2010-2011 campaign — two losses to UBC in the final weekend of Canada-West regular-season play, leaving TRU on the outside looking in — was a stepping stone, Reeves said.
“You have to have that taste of what it’s like to almost get it,” Reeves said.
“And then, that off-season, you hope the kids commit to the training they need and say, ‘You know, next year, we’re not going to almost get it, we’re going to get it.”
Kamloops product Taiysa Worsfold is one of the WolfPack rookies who listened to the team’s veterans plea for help this season.
The Sa-Hali secondary graduate, a three-time member of Team B.C., said she is in debt to the people who have brought the Pack this far.
“It’s nice having that framework of the program set out by all the work that they’ve done in the past five years,” Worsfold said.
“It’s a lot easier for us to come in knowing that we have a chance in this league.”
Fourth-year forward Diane Schuetze led TRU in scoring last season and will again be counted on to wreak havoc underneath the glass.
Jen Ju, a fourth-year guard, will set the pace for the WolfPack, who plan to keep opponents on their heels by running the floor in transition.
TRU is in Calgary to play the Dinos on Friday, Nov. 11, and in Lethbridge to play the Pronghorns on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Two road wins, leaving TRU at 4-0, would put the WolfPack in a great position to make program history — and push TRU’s graduating players a little closer to their goal.
“I 100 per cent want to make playoffs this season,” Colonna said.