Redeemer Royals Have a Renewed Sense of Optimism After Tough 2018-19 Season

Webb, Alex
Alex Webb put together a strong debut season in 2018-19, earning herself a spot on the OCAA All-Rookie Team in the West Division. (Source: Redeemer Royals) (Header: Redeemer Royals)

HAMILTON, Ont. — If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.

The 2019-20 basketball season is right around the corner, and we’re here to help you get set for what will surely be an incredible journey.

While we’re still looking back on an incredible 2018-19 season, one that saw two teams win their first-ever National Championships in school history, it’s also the perfect time to look ahead. The 2019-20 season promises to deliver a heightened level of excitement, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the new campaign.

To get fans across the country ready for the new season, we’ve taken on a challenge that hasn’t been done before. In the coming weeks, we will preview every team from coast to coast ahead of the 2019-20 season.

That’s 111 different programs, if you’re keeping a tally.

From August 8th through to October 6th, every team will be previewed in some capacity. For institutions that have both men’s and women’s basketball, a separate preview piece will be done for each team.

Rosters will be dissected and a look back at the year that was will help us determine what the team looks like this time around as every team begins with a blank slate in the standings.

Without further adieu, here is today’s preview on the women’s basketball program for the Redeemer Royals.

2018-19 in Review

The 2018-19 season for the Redeemer Royals was a tough one, but it also showcased the toughness that Head Coach Jesse VanHouwelingen had on his roster. Playing short-handed for most of the year, the Royals competed every night but ultimately ran out of gas at the end.

“Last year was definitely an up and down year,” said VanHouwelingen. “With my late start, we had to spend so much time on conditioning and implementing a system that we didn’t start off to well.”

Redeemer posted a record of 5-15 overall in the regular season, finishing in a tie for eighth-place in the OCAA West Division with the Mohawk Mountaineers. The Royals missed the playoffs as a result of their up-and-down season.

While the Royals had a pair of two-game winning streaks during the year, both came in the first half of the season. In the 2019 calendar year, the Royals went just 1-8, with their lone win coming on February 13th in their home finale against the UTM Eagles, 83-68.

The Royals played short-handed most of the season, as their official roster online lists just eight players overall. Against the Lambton Lions on February 1st, the Royals dressed just five players. While they competed for a full 40 minutes, the Lions ultimately picked up the 74-56 win over Redeemer.

While they competed night in and night out, the Royals ran out of gas and weren’t able to sustain any sort of positive momentum. Looking ahead to the 2019-20 season, the Royals will be without as many as two of their key pieces from last season. But, a strong returning group will lead the way, and a large recruiting class has injected a new sense of optimism surrounding the program.

Who’s Gone?

At year’s end, the Royals honoured at least one, and maybe two graduating players, both of whom were key pieces for Coach VanHouwelingen during his first year leading the way at Redeemer. Both players played significant minutes for the short-handed Royals throughout the year, and will surely be missed in the years to come.

Pavlik, Julia
Julia Pavlik, the reigning CCR Canads Fan Voted CCAA Player of the Year, played at least 40 minutes on 15 occasions last season. (Source: Redeemer Royals)

Guard Julia Pavlik (Waterloo, Ont.) was a do-everything guard for the Royals. With the Royals short-handed down the stretch, Pavlik gave the young Redeemer team a veteran presence on the court that they could lean on for guidance and motivation. Pavlik left everything on the court, both literally and figuratively. Over the course of the year, she played at least 40 minutes on 15 occasions, never leaving the court most games unless it was at the break.

On both ends of the floor, Pavlik was an impact player for the Royals. She averaged 13.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 3.5 steals per game while shooting 32.8% from the field. A high energy guard, Pavlik was the type of player that every coach would have loved to have on her team.

She capped off her collegiate career by being named the CCR Canada CCAA Women’s Basketball Player of the Year in our first annual Fan Vote across social media.

The only question mark from last year’s roster is whether or not Mikayla Blackburn (Oshawa, Ont.) graduated from the program after her fourth-year of eligibility or not. If she did graduate, that’s a loss that deals another blow to the Royals both on and off the court. Last season, Blackburn posted an average of 8.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per contest while shooting 30.3% from the field and 80.0% from the free throw line.

The losses of both Pavlik, and potentially Blackburn, will hurt the team’s overall talent and experience in 2019-20. With that said, the Royals have a strong core returning this season and they have a talented recruiting class who will be chomping at the bit to get started.

Who’s Back?

Their roster may have had just eight names on it last season, but the Royals will welcome back the bulk of their production from 2018-19. The Royals will look to get a full season out of their star forward, and they have a strong supporting cast back who gained a ton of valuable experience last season with the injuries and other circumstances.

Atop the list of returnees is arguably the league’s top forward, Tobie Brinkman (Ottawa, Ont.). Last season, Brinkman was limited to 15 games, but she was a dominant force in the paint each time out. She recorded double-digit rebounds in all 15 games last season, showcasing her dominance on both ends of the court in the paint. Brinkman recorded 13 double-doubles as a result.

Brinkman, Tobie
A full season of Tobie Brinkman in the paint will help the Redeemer Royals be competitive each time out. (Source: Redeemer Royals)

For the year, Brinkman averaged 16.8 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 2.2 steals, and 2.2 blocks per contest while shooting 40.1% from the field. She is widely considered as one of the top rebounding forwards in the country, and her 13.1 per game average ranked second, only to Christine Fleischer of the Lambton Lions (14.4 rpg). A full season with Brinkman in the lineup will do wonders for the Royals in 2019-20.

Down the stretch last season, Alex Webb (Waterdown, Ont.) became a regular in the starting five, and she made the most of her opportunity. She became a regular starter on November 16th against the Sault Cougars, and she proceeded to record 10 games with double-points in the second half of the season. For the year, Webb posted 9.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per contest while shooting 31.3% from the field.

For her efforts last season, Webb was named to the OCAA All-Rookie Team for the West Division.

In the front court, the likes of Katrina Martin (Stoney Creek, Ont.), Lucy Brinkman (Ottawa, Ont.), and Larissa Bouwman (Calgary, Alta.) were the direct recipients of extra minutes with the short-handed roster. All three performed rather will given their limited experience in the OCAA, and the experience that they gained will do wonders for their confidence moving forwards.

Of the three, Martin led the way on offense, averaging 9.3 points per contest to go along with 7.7 rebounds. All three players averaged more than 5.2 rebounds per contest and shot better than 30% from the field.

All eight player on the Royals’ roster last season did everything that they could to help the team as a collective unit. Everyone did anything they could to help the team compete on both ends of the floor, and Coach VanHouwelingen knew that from the start.

“My girls played their butts off and gave me everything they had,” said VanHouwelingen. “We just ran out of steam at the end of games and a few injuries kept us out of the playoffs last year.”

With a strong core returning in 2019-20, the Royals have a good foundation to build around. Add in a sizable recruiting class that features 7-8 student-athletes, the Royals will have a full contingent on the floor this time around.

Incoming Talent

The Royals will have a large contingent of new faces on their roster this season. Coach VanHouwelingen and his staff have an incoming class that will include seven-to-eight names ahead of the 2019-20 season. Among them are a pair of veteran guards who bring a wealth of talent and experience from the U Sports ranks, bolstering a Redeemer back court and giving them one of the better tandems in the OCAA.

VanHouwelingen picked up a commitment from Jessica Angelini (Hamilton, Ont.) who returns home after a stint with the Western Mustangs in the OUA. Angelini is a tough guard who can make plays with her court vision, but can also shoot the lights out on any given night when her jumper is on.

To compliment Angelini, the Royals have added Griffin Lack-Shane (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.) to the roster. A transfer from the St. FX X-Women, Lack-Shane is a player who can handle the ball well and create opportunities for herself while also possessing a strong jump shot. Looking for a fresh start after last season, Lack-Shane will be a welcome addition to the Redeemer roster.

VanHouwelingen had this to say about his new veterans.

“Both were heavily recruited and have played at the U sports level and I know they will excel playing for us in the OCAA West Division.”

Slowly but surely, the Brinkman name is becoming synonymous with Redeemer women’s basketball, as the Royals will add a third member of the family to the mix. Sam Brinkman (Ottawa, Ont.) will join the Redeemer family this season, playing alongside Tobie and Lucy in 2019-20.

Jessica Wattel and Olivia Torrie have also been announced as commitments to the Redeemer program, adding depth and talent to the roster. While the remaining names have yet to be released, the 2019-20 recruiting class is already a talented one and has created a heightened level of optimism surrounding the program.

“This year will be different.”

Head Coach Jesse VanHouwelingen has a positive vision for the program after last year’s tough finish. With a full year now under his belt, and a recruiting class that is entirely his, he can now put his own systems into place without having to rush around with his late start last year.

The Royals are an interesting situation this year. Often overlooked last year, they have the potential to be a sneaky team in the West Division in 2019-20. With a recruiting class that features two veterans who are looking for fresh starts and talented freshmen aplenty, the Royals have a unique mix of talent an experience, all of whom are hungry and looking to compete in the OCAA.

Given the outlook surrounding the men’s program this year and the new level of optimism with the women’s program, the 2019-20 season could be special for the Redeemer Royals.

Be sure to bookmark our 2019-20 Season Previews page to keep up with the previews as they are released online.

– T. Bennett

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