BELLEVILLE, Ontario — It’s been an up-and-down few seasons for the Loyalist Lancers in the OCAA.
Back in 2013-14, the Lancers finished the season with a 3-13 record against OCAA opponents, a record that saw them accumulate just six points and finish in eighth place out of nine teams in the East Division. The next season, they improved their record to 8-8, finishing with 16 points and in a three-way tie for fourth place.
After another .500 record in 2015-16, finishing at 7-7 overall, the Lancers looked to continue their positive momentum and finish above the .500 mark in 2016-17. Instead, the Lancers found themselves at the bottom of the East Division with a record of 4-13. Loyalist closed the year on a nine-game losing streak, and they were back at square one.
However, they weren’t there for long. As their recent trend continued, the Lancers would hover right around the .500 mark once again this past season. Loyalist finished the year with a record of 8-9, good enough for fifth place in the eight-team division. Their 10-point improvement from the year prior is another step in the right direction for the women’s basketball program.
Now, as the 2018-19 season quickly approaches, the Lancers are hoping to keep their positive momentum going and avoid another step backwards in the standings.
Despite their up-and-down results over the last few seasons as a team, guard Jenni Thompson put together a stellar career in a Loyalist uniform. The 2017-18 season marked the end of Thompson’s collegiate career, but she definitely left her mark on the program.
The guard from Belleville put up big numbers for her hometown Lancers. Thompson amassed over 1,000 points for her career, and she capped it off with 342 points as a fifth-year player in 2017-18. She did a lot of her damage from beyond the arc, finishing her career as Loyalist’s all-time leader in three pointers made.
Thompson’s mother, Joanne Garvin-Thompson, is also one of the best athletes to have played for Loyalist, finishing her career as a top 10 scorer with the Lancers and was inducted into the Loyalist Sports Hall of Fame. Chances are that Jenni Thompson will be there down the road with her mother.
With Thompson and Katie Wiggins having graduated after last season, the Lancers will look for others to step and take on leadership roles both on and off the court.
Guard Brittany Mason had herself a strong debut season in 2017-18, and she will be the Lancers’ top returning scorer in 2018-19 with the graduation of both Thompson and Wiggins. The 5’9” guard from Ottawa, ON was one of three Lancers to average double-digit points per game last season, posting 11.1 points per contest on 30.8% shooting from the floor.
In addition to finishing second on the team in scoring, Mason led the team with 8.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. On the defensive end of the floor, Mason pulled down close to seven rebounds per game. Mason put up impressive numbers on both ends of the floor, showing promise for her future with the Lancers.
One knock on her stat line last season were the 60 turnovers that she accumulated, giving her an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.8:1. If she can improve her ball security going forwards, she will put up even bigger numbers.
Guard Brianna Arichara should also be in for an expanded role this season with the Lancers. As a second-year guard in 2017-18, the product of Ottawa, ON posted 9.7 points per game over nine appearances throughout the season, all of which came after the Christmas break. Arichara showed some promise on the offensive end, posting double-digit on four occasions, including a 21-point outing against the Georgian Grizzlies on February 10th.
A full year of Arichara should help the Lancers improve on their 8-9 record from a season ago.
The last four seasons have been full of ups and downs for the Lancers, as they haven’t been able to build any consistent positive momentum for more than a year. In 2018-19, Loyalist will be looking to take another step forwards and get back into contention for an OCAA title.
Replacing a player who put up numbers like Thompson did over her career will be tough, but the Lancers have talented pieces in place to keep pace with last year’s team performance. Mason looks like a star in the making in the OCAA, and she will look to lead Loyalist on their climb towards a title.
– T. Bennett