Ambrose Lions Looking to Make Positive Strides in 2018-19

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Entering their fourth season as members of the ACAC, the Ambrose University Lions will look to continue laying a foundation that they hope will lead to championships in the future. (Source: Ambrose University) (Header: Ambrose Athletics)

CALGARY, Alberta — It was a long season for the Ambrose Lions in 2017-18.

The Lions went 3-2 over their five exhibition games, showing some promise for the regular season with all three wins coming by at least 11 points. They began the 2017-18 campaign with a 67-55 win at home over the Briercrest College Clippers, continuing their positive momentum from exhibition play.

From there, the wheels fell off and the Lions wouldn’t find the win column the rest of the year.

Ambrose closed the season on a 20-game losing streak, finishing the year with a record of 1-20 and in last place in the ACAC South Division. The Lions had the worst record across both divisions in the league. The 2017-18 was a step backwards for the Lions, as they picked up three wins in the 2016-17 season.

Heading into the 2018-19 season, the Lions will be looking for any sort of positive momentum as a program. They will look to get out of the basement in the ACAC standings and start building towards a winning season and contending for a league title down the road.

Despite their record, the Lions didn’t finish last in the ACAC in terms of points per game on offense. They averaged 57.1 points per contest on the offensive end of the floor, finishing over a point ahead of the GPRC Wolves for the lowest average (56.0).

The biggest area of concern for the Lions last season was their three-point shooting. As a team, Ambrose shot just 24.6% from beyond the arc. None of their regular rotation players shot better than 28.3% from three-point range. On the contrary, opponents shot 35.6% from long distance over the course of the season.

Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, the Lions will look to improve in all aspects on both ends of the floor. With that will come improvements out on the three-point arc, both on offense and defense.

The 2018-19 roster has yet to be released, but the Lions’ coaching staff will be leaning on their returnees to help guide the program on their climb up the ACAC standings.

Last season, Caitlyn Hetrick led the Lions on the offensive end of the floor as a third-year player. The 5’7” guard from Phoenix, AZ averaged a team-best 14.9 points per game while starting all 21 games for the Lions over the course of the year. Hetrick was also one of just two regulars to shoot above 40% from the floor for the year, hitting on 45.5% of her field goal attempts.

Hetrick added 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, both of which were team-high marks among regulars in the rotation. Paige Goertzen pulled down 14 rebounds in her only appearance of the season for the Lions. While the roster has yet to be finalized online for the 2018-19 season,  the return of Hetrick for her fourth year of eligibility would give the Lions a big boost on both ends of the court.

Entering the 2017-18 season, Hetrick was one of five recruits that committed to Ambrose. Forward Hannah Enns (6.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and guard Natasha Proulx (2.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg) were also a part of the recruiting class.

The 2018-19 season marks the fourth season in the ACAC for Ambrose University, and as expected, the results haven’t been there over their first three seasons as members of the league. As a program, they are trying to lay the foundation upon which they can build a successful program.

With several other programs in the city of Calgary, attracting homegrown talent isn’t the easiest thing to necessarily do, especially when they don’t have the best track record in terms of results. Last season, the Lions had seven players on their 14-women roster from the province of Alberta, and just three of those seven were from Calgary. With Canadian schools having limited budgets for recruiting, the coaching staff have to find unique ways to attract players to come play for the Lions.

In 2018-19, the Lions will look to continue their development in the ACAC, laying a foundation that they will hopefully turn into a conference contender in the coming years. After a last-place finish in 2017-18, it’s undoubtedly an uphill climb for Ambrose in 2018-19 and beyond.

– T. Bennett

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