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Rustlers ready for SAIT

Rustlers ready for SAIT

Posted in By Colin
 
Rustlers guard Mariah Van’t Hof was fifth in team scoring, averaging 6.25 points per game through the regular season and will be counted on in the playoffs.- Robb Fenton Photo

By Robb Fenton
The Lakeland Rustlers women’s basketball team is in unfamiliar territory, but that’s a good problem for them.
The Rustlers will host the SAIT Trojans in Round 1 of the ACAC playoffs beginning today, with the winner of the three game series moving on to the Final Four.
After posing a 14-6 record, the Rustlers feel they have the tools to advance and head coach Chris King said he knows it won’t be easy, but he feels the matchup is in the Rustlers’ favour.
“It’s a matchup I like. They have two premier guards that have to be shut down. Their forwards rebound the ball hard and work extremely hard and they’re a tough team, they’re very physical,” King said about his opponents.
“We’ll have to play very well on the defensive end of things and rebound the ball. I think there are certain areas we can take advantage of and hopefully we do this series.”
In their only meeting of the season, the Rustlers came away with a 68-57 win on the road.
The Rustlers earned home court advantage thanks to finishing second place in the North Division, while the Trojans ended up third in the South.
King said it’s one of those things you kind of take for granted, but playing at home is a big advantage
“I think it’s huge we’re on home court. The girls play well at home, we have a lot of energy, we shoot the ball very well and I think it’s a great advantage,” he said. “We’re 8-3 at home, so I like the fact we’re in our own beds, we’re comfortable with our surroundings. It’s a big thing, especially in a three-game series, with them having a short bench.”
Rustlers guard Mariah Van’t Hof admitted the Trojans are not pushovers and the Rustlers have to be aware of their two main scorers.
“They have two players we’ve been talking about, we have to watch out for those players. We know their tendencies and what they like to do. They’re kind of like the go-getters of their team. If they’re playing well, the whole team does well,” she said. “Our keys are to make sure we lock down on those players and that we play together as a team, especially in a huge setting like playoffs.”
The Rustlers enter the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak and although things are different in playoffs, you can’t look past the fact that Lakeland hasn’t lost since Jan. 20 and has been playing great basketball.
“We’re really excited and I think the seven-game win streak has added momentum. At the same time, we have to be confident and go in there with the intentions that we need to win and we need to do the little things in order to win,” Van’t Hof said.
King said if his team plays a simple game, takes care of their own end of the court and rebounds well, the series shouldn’t last too long.
But saying that, the Rustlers still have to execute to win.
“For us, it’s going to be who rebounds the ball better. They crash extremely well on the offensive glass and if we can neutralize that, I think we’ll have success,” King said. “If we don’t play well on the defensive end and rebounding, we’re going to struggle and it’s going to be a grind and we’ll have to shoot extremely well.”
Game 1 goes tonight at Lakeland Gym at 6 p.m. with Game 2 Friday night and Game 3, if necessary, Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.
The winner advances to the Final Four.
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