OSHAWA, Ontario — If the preseason is any indication, the 2018-19 edition of the Durham Lords’ women’s basketball team will be much improved from the year prior.
Last season, the Lords took part in an exhibition tournament hosted by the Mohawk Mountaineers. When the dust settled, the Lords returned to Oshawa with three losses to their name. This season, Durham College was back at the event, and they completely flipped the script from a season ago.
The Lords swept their three games at this year’s event, picking up wins over the Mountaineers, Redeemer Royals, and St. Clair Saints to extend their preseason record to 3-2 at the time.
What a difference a year makes.
Durham would follow that up with a win over the Niagara College Knights before heading to Sherbrooke, Quebec to take part in the Cougar Fall Classic. The Lords would go 1-2 over the three-day event, picking up a win over the Edouard-Montpetit Lynx in their opener before dropping their next two contests.
While their preseason record reads 5-4, the fact that the Lords were able to flip the script at the Mohawk event and pick up three consecutive wins over talented programs adds excitement to the upcoming 2018-19 season. They have created a positive buzz around the program, and the Lords will be looking to build on last year’s third-place finish in the OCAA East Division.
Durham finished the 2017-18 regular season with a record of 9-8 against OCAA East Division opponents, putting them in a tie for third-place with the St. Lawrence (K) Vikings. The Lords closed the season with three straight wins to push their record above .500 and to earn a spot in the OCAA Championships.
However, the Lords were unable to carry their positive momentum from the regular season into the playoffs, as Durham dropped their first two games in the tournament and saw their season come to an end.
In their quarter-final contest, the Lords were outmatched against a talented Fanshawe Falcons team, falling 93-62. In the consolation semi-finals, Durham took on the George Brown Huskies. Again, the Lords were outmatched, and their season came to an end with a 92-74 defeat.
Now, the attention shifts to the 2018-19 season, and with a strong showing in the preseason in their back pockets, the Lords will be looking to climb in the divisional standings and make a run at the OCAA title.
Durham will have a pair of familiar faces back to lead the way in 2018-19, as their top two scorers are back in the mix for another season. Maddie Dender and Dekota Kirby were one-two in scoring last season for the Lords, and they will be looking to build off a strong preseason and lead Durham come the regular season.
Dender hails from Ajax, Ontario, and will be entering her fourth season of eligibility in 2018-19. Last season, the 5’2” guard made 11 starts over the course of the regular season while appearing in all 17 games for the Lords. She averaged a team-high 15.6 points per game on 36.5% shooting from the field.
Over the Lords’ first three games last season, Dender recorded three straight 20+ point performances. She had 26 points in just 23 minutes of court time in Durham’s second game of the season, a 92-49 win over the Algonquin Thunder. Her hot start was a sign of things to come, as she recorded at least 20 points in eight games over the season.
This season, Dender has picked up right where she left off last season. She posted 22 points against St. Clair at the Mohawk tournament, and followed that up with 24 points against Niagara.
Not to be outdone, Kirby has also picked up where she left off last season. In the Lords’ win over Redeemer at the Mohawks event, she posted 18 points and 15 assists for her first double-double of the year. The next night out, she went for 19 points in Durham’s win over the Mountaineers.
Last season, the native of Markham, ON finished second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.4 points per contest. Kirby also led the Lords with an average of 5.0 assists per contest. She had at least five assists in eight games last season, and she posted a triple-double in the Lords’ win over Algonquin in the second game of the season. Kirby went for 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Durham’s 43-point victory.
Also back in the mix for the Lords this season are veterans like second-year guard Emily Glendinning (10.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg), fifth-year forward Keisha Arthurworrey (7.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg), and fourth-year forward Emily Chamberlain (6.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg). When you add in a recruiting class that features the likes of forward Marie Stasiuk and Chyvon Thomas, both of whom have had an impressive preseason with the Lords, and it’s easy to see why they have enjoyed some early season success.
Durham needed a three-game winning streak to close out the 2017-18 regular season in order to advance to the playoffs, where they would bow out after just two games in the OCAA Championships. This season, they are hoping for a different result. They’ve already flipped the script from last year when it comes to the preseason, so who’s to say that they can’t do the same when the post-season rolls around.
With a healthy mix of veterans and talented newcomers on the roster for 2018-19, Durham College could make some noise throughout the new season as they look to make a run at the league crown.
– T. Bennett