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Home opener with something to prove

Thursday November 5, 2015
Gee-Gees in action.
Richard A. Whittaker

The Gee-Gees women’s basketball team will be looking to make a statement this weekend, opening its 2015-16 regular season at home against Nipissing and Laurentian. Ottawa went 5-2 against CIS competition in exhibition action but finished with a string of four victories and feel that they are in excellent position to repeat as OUA North Division winners, and more.

Saturday night will be Ottawa’s Shoot For the Cure event, raising awareness and funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

The team’s primary question mark over the past two years has been a case of how many games the full roster is available to play; head coach Andy Sparks has long since given up counting man-hours lost to injuries and has learned to roll with the punches. This year, the pieces are once again there and the matter at hand will be keeping everyone on the floor.

Senior members of the team and the top two returning scorers, Kellie Ring and Krista van Slingerland will both be on the bench this weekend but fans will see key players Sarah Besselink, Katherine Lemoine, and Catherine Traer back on the court after missing the majority of last season. At guard, Kellie Forand has emerged as a scoring and defensive force in her third season with the team while Julia Soriano is coming off her finest season at the point and continues to log energy-filled minutes. Julia Dostaler and Anne Wagar are first off the bench for Ottawa, providing additional size and athleticism.

The weekend looks to be set up for Ottawa success as the Gee-Gees handled both teams easily last season.

Nipissing has a pair of preseason wins over college squads from CEGEP Champlain and Algonquin, but went winless through seven games against CIS competition. The closest game was a 57-47 loss to Dalhousie. The Lakers struggled mightily in their opening campaign at the CIS level last year, ranking last in the CIS in points per game and points allowed per game; as an example Ottawa outscored its North Division rival 183-46 in the two meetings last season.

Laurentian picked up an 8-11 record last year but were no match for Ottawa, falling 89-49 and 86-43 in the teams' two meetings. The Voyageurs relied heavily on the three-pointer last season, ranking second in the nation with 25 attempts per game and sinking six per game. When the Vees get hot they can take down a higher ranked opponent, as they showed with a win over Lakehead (14-5).

Ottawa posted a 14-5 regular season record last year, but were stopped short of the OUA Final Four. The team has qualified for the playoffs for each of the last seven seasons under Andy Sparks, and last won the OUA Championship in 2012.

Tickets are available online and each ticket is $2 cheaper when purchased at least 2 hours before game time. Each basketball ticket includes access to the women’s game at 6 p.m., and the men’s game at 8 p.m.

Every Gee-Gees regular season game, home and away, will be broadcast on