Vikings look for consistency
The riddle that is the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings women’s basketball team was on full display with a weekend split with the Lakeland Rustlers.
The Vikings used lights-out shooting to hand the Rustlers just their third loss of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season 78-66 in Lloydminster on Friday, but a second-quarter brain cramp led to a 66-57 back on home court on Saturday.
It is the joys of youth that head coach Robyn Fleckenstein is learning to navigate.
“I don’t know if you can drill consistency, I try to hold them accountable for consistent things which I hope is going to create consistency later, but some nights they’re just not going to be the group that I thought that they are.”
The Vikings were outscored 14-5 in the second quarter to trail 32-19 at half time. They were not able to get any closer than six points the rest of the way.
The win over the Rustlers shows what kind of potential currently exists on the roster – taking into full account that Lakeland was without their two starting posts – but their 3-7 record gives an understanding of the gap that inconsistency creates between the top teams and those at the bottom of the standings.
The encouraging part for Fleckenstein is that the building blocks are in place to one day join the top teams in the ACAC.
In Friday’s win, rookie guard Jessica Haenni caught fire and scored a game-high 24 points while freshman forward Hannah Mitchell was close behind with 22 points and eight rebounds. On Saturday, veterans like Samantha Dargis (13 points), Sarah Smith (11 points) and Nicole Ubels (six points, 13 rebounds) kept the Vikings in the game. Haenni had another strong game with nine points. However, getting outscored 14-5 in the second quarter killed them.
“We depend on certain people for certain things … we need more consistency in our scoring,” said Fleckenstein. “If we’re only going to have people scoring 10 points, we need more people scoring 10 points.”
The Vikings now close out the first half of the season with a two-game set against the NAIT Ooks in Camrose on Friday at 6 p.m. (men at 8 p.m.) and in Edmonton on Saturday at 6 p.m. (men at 8 p.m.).
A big weekend can set them up for a solid run at a playoff spot in the second half of the season—they are eight points behind the Ooks for the final seed.
“I don’t think there’s any team in this league that we can’t beat, however, I haven’t seen a team in this league that can’t beat us,” said Fleckenstein. “I don’t feel like we’re out of this race at all … It’s one of those things where everyone is so close and everyone is so desperate to play hard and work hard.”
• The Vikings (3-7) men’s team was swept by the Rustlers (9-3), losing 82-75 on Friday in Lloydminster and 81-73 in Camrose on Saturday.
While the standings do not count moral victories, the Vikings did well to hang with the top team in the ACAC North with three starters – Spencer Marion, Austin Brulotte, and Darian Smigorowsky — on the sidelines with injuries. In their absence, Michael Stasuik had a big game on Friday with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Nathan Bowie has 12 points and Chad Chessall had 11. On Saturday, Stasuik had 21 points and 12 rebounds while Bowie had 18 points, and Eddy Nkerabahizi had 15.
• The Augustana men’s hockey team will go into the Christmas break in a tie for second place with the Red Deer College Kings after their two-game sweep of the Concordia University Thunder.
The Vikings beat the Thunder 7-4 on Friday in Camrose and then 5-3 in Edmonton. On Friday, The Vikings got one goal each from Brett Ponich, Patrick Thompson-Gale, Dillan McCombie, Mitch McMullin, Cody Young, Evan Warmington and Jimmy Sheehan while Curtis Skip made 20 saves for the win. On Saturday, The Kodiaks got single scores from Thompson-Gale, Warmington, McMullin, Travis Mayan and Taylor Armbruster and Zach deGraves made 26 saves for the win.
The Vikings (9-4-1-0) are back in action on Jan. 5 when they host the NAIT Ooks (11-1-1-1) at 7:30 p.m.
• The Augustana curling teams had a rough start to their tournament season at the Fall Regional hosted by Portage College in St. Paul. The men finished 2-3 while the women were 1-5. The winter regional is hosted by Concordia University in Edmonton from Feb. 26-28. The Vikings will host the ACAC Curling Championship Feb. 16-18.