Fanshawe Falcons Eager to Defend OCAA Championship in 2019-20

Angou, Chuot
Chuot Angou, the reigning OCAA Player of the Year, is back and ready to lead the charge in 2019-20 as Fanshawe will look to defend its OCAA Championship. (Source: Fanshawe Falcons) (Header: Fanshawe Falcons)

LONDON, 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 Fanshawe Falcons women’s basketball program.

2018-19 in Review

The 2018-19 season was a standout season for the Falcons on both a Provincial and National level.

Over the course of the regular season, the Falcons were among the top teams in all of Canada. They took over the top spot in the CCAA rankings for the first time in program history on January 29th, 2019. Their lone loss of the year came against the St. Clair Saints in their fifth game of the season, and they finished the regular season on a 15-game winning streak.

The Falcons finished the year atop the OCAA West Division with a record of 19-1 overall. They finished one game up on the second-place Humber Hawks.

From there, Fanshawe’s attention shifted to the OCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. After a pair of convincing wins, the Falcons found themselves matched up with the Saints in the Championship. While both teams had secured a spot at Nationals, both wanted to enter as provincial champions.

It was another tight game for the Falcons, but they had some extra motivation after their loss to the Saints earlier in the year. For the first time in 16 years, the Falcons were crowned provincial champions with a 78-72 win over the Saints.

The Falcons’ attention quickly shifted to the 2019 CCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship. They had their sights set on a medal at the event, but an upset-minded team from the ACAC had other ideas. The Keyano College Huskies drew the Falcons in the quarter-finals, and they delivered the second big blow of the event.

After the Dynamiques de Sainte-Foy knocked off the Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) Mystics in the third game of the day, Keyano College had similar intentions. They didn’t let the Falcons gain any separation, and they kept Fanshawe in their sights from start to finish. After the Falcons took a three-point lead into the break, the Huskies reversed their fortunes and took a three-point lead of their own into the fourth quarter.

The Falcons continued to fight down to the final buzzer, but the upset-minded Huskies wouldn’t be denied, and Fanshawe’s gold medal hopes game to an end with a 69-66 defeat.

From there, the Falcons still had a chance at the bronze medal, but would need to work for it. They picked up a win over the Mystics in the bronze quarter-final, 70-63, to keep their season alive. In the bronze semi-final contest, the Falcons were in tough against the Dawson Blues. Fanshawe held a 44-40 lead after the opening half, but the Blues came out with a purpose in the second half, overtaking the Falcons and rolling to the 85-70 win.

Fanshawe posted a 1-2 record at Nationals, and their fifth-place finish was their best finish at Nationals in 24 years. The Falcons finished fourth overall back in the 1994-95 season.

Looking ahead to the new season, and the Falcons are eager to defend their provincial title. However, they will have to do so without several members of last year’s team. Without close to half of their roster, the Falcons will turn to their role players from last year to step in and help carry some of the load on both ends of the court.

Who’s Gone?

The 2019-20 edition of the Falcons will look considerably different than the team they had just a year ago. With three graduating players honoured at last year’s home finale, plus another three fifth-year players having played out their eligibility, the Falcons will be without at least six names from last year’s team.

Guard Mary Ingribelli (St. Catharines, Ont.) capped off her collegiate career with an impressive season for the Falcons. Ingribelli surpassed the 1,000-point mark during the regular season, and was honoured at year’s end for her accomplishments on the court. She posted 9.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest while shooting 38.4% from the floor.

Laura Vere (Stratford, Ont.) has made the move from player to administration member, as she is now the Coordinator, Communications and Student Engagement with the Laurier Golden Hawks. Vere posted 5.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game as a fifth-year senior while shooting 43.6% from the floor and 82.4% from the free throw line.

Kaleigh Morris (London, Ont.) gave the Falcons another three-point threat when she was on the floor. Morris posted 5.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest last season, shooting 43.5% from the field and 41.7% from three-point range. She also hit on 84.6% of her attempts from the free throw line.

Claire Dechet (Sarnia, Ont.) was awarded the 2018-19 Fowler Kennedy Award at year’s end. The award is given to a student-athletes in a Health Sciences program who shows a commitment to academics while succeeding in their sport. Dechet posted 7.7 points and 2.5 rebounds per game last season.

The Falcons will also be with the services and experience of Maddy Kielar (Newmarket, Ont.) and Maggie Jarvis (London, Ont.). While both were used in a reserve role, the Falcons will miss their experience on the bench as they move onto the next chapter of their careers.\

In terms of talent and experience, the Falcons lose a ton from last year’s team. The production can be replaced, but the presence of the six departing players won’t be replicated. However, the Falcons welcome back their top three scorers and a slew of role players who can step in and take on expanded roles this year.

Who’s Back?

While the Falcons do lose their share of talent on both sides of the ball, all is not lost heading into the 2019-20 season. Fanshawe does return its top three scorers from a year ago, a group that includes the reigning OCAA Player of the Year and a two-way guard who was limited due to injury last season. Add in some role players who will look to take the next steps in their development, and the Falcons have an intriguing group back this season.

The marquee returnee for the Falcons is guard Chuot Angou (London, Ont.). The hometown guard led the Falcons in scoring last season, averaging 17.3 points per contest on 48.5% shooting from the field and 37.4% from three-point range. Angou posted double-digit points in 18 regular season games, topping the 20-point mark in six of those contests.

She was one of the league’s mot consistent scorers, and she was rewarded at year’s end for her efforts. Angou was named the OCAA Women’s Basketball Player of the Year after helping guide the Falcons to their 19-1 record. She was also named a CCAA All-Canadian and was a member of the CCAA Second Team Tournament All-Star for her performances at Nationals.

In addition to her offensive production, Angou posted 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per game.

Wright, Mikhaila
Mikhaila Wright missed eight games in 2018-19 due to injury, but she still finished second on the team in scoring. Fully healthy in 2019-20, Wright will look to help the Falcons on both ends of the floor. (Source: Fanshawe Falcons)

Mikhaila Wright (London, Ont.) came into the season with a ton of potential, but the two-way guard was hampered with an injury early on that caused her to miss some time and throw off her rhythm a bit. Wright missed eight games over the course of the season, but still put together a stat line that gives her the same buzz heading into the 2019-20 campaign.

Last season, Wright posted 12.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.5 steals per game while shooting 44.6% from the field. She averaged just over 21 minutes per game last season, making her stat line and ability to impact the game on both ends of the floor even more impressive. With the losses the Falcons had to endure after last season, look for Wright’s minutes to increase this season as she closes her career at Fanshawe.

In the paint, forward Natalie Warren (London, Ont.) gives the Falcons an impact player on both ends of the floor, and her strength makes her a match-up problem for her opponents. For the year, Warren averaged 9.8 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per contest. Warren also has the ability to stretch the floor with her shooting range, and she hit on 51.1% of her field goal attempts overall and 38.5% from three-point range last season.

Down the stretch, Warren found her groove on offense. She closed the regular season with five double-digit scoring efforts over the team’s final six contests. Warren also had five games with at least 10 rebounds, and she recorded six or more rebounds on 11 occasions.

After Angou, Wright, and Warren, the production drops off in terms of returnees. With that said, the opportunity is there for role players to take on expanded roles this season with the large graduating class.

Jessica Jordan (Chatham, Ont.) is coming off a strong first season with the Falcons, one in which she averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game while shooting 45.9% from the floor. With the departures in the back court, Jordan is a player who’s in line for a much larger role in 2019-20.

In the front court, second-year forward Mackenzie Van Dyk (Parkhill, Ont.) is an intriguing option that could give the Falcons a different look inside. The 6’1’’ forward saw the floor in 16 games last season, shooting an effective 53.6% from the floor. She averaged 2.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in limited action as a first-year player.

Alison Cotton (London, Ont.) showed her ability to impact the game in limited action, as well. She posted 4.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2018-19 as a first-year student-athlete, and she will look to build off that this season.

“We anticipate our role players from last season will step up into bigger roles this year,” said Falcons Head Coach Bill Carriere. “With a lot of hard work, hopefully we can repeat as provincial champs.”

While the Falcons do lose a lot, they benefit by returning their top three scorers from last season. Their overall level of experience will take a hit, but it also gives the younger players a chance to showcase their talents and take the next steps in their respective journeys.

Incoming Talent

The Falcons will be without several familiar faces in 2019-20, but that also means that the future of the program is on its way into the mix. Fanshawe has announced five recruits thus far, and it’s unclear right now as to whether or not more are on the way.

“We are impressed with the talent of this year’s recruiting class and are excited to get the season started,” added Carriere. “Only time will tell the impact that they will have on our team, but they have the ability to add depth once they’ve adapted to the college game.”

Jordan Braekevelt, Grace Shea, Ashleigh LaBlance, Legacie Blackbird, and Taylor Hill will all don a Fanshawe jersey for the foreseeable future. The five incoming recruits will add another level of depth and balance to the roster for the Falcons in 2019-20, and beyond.

All five newcomers have the luxury of playing with some of the top players in Canada, let alone the province, and that will do wonders for their development as their collegiate careers get underway this season in the always-tough OCAA West Division.

“The main takeaway for our returners and our staff is understanding the caliber of basketball and different styles of play across the country,” concluded Carriere. “We are hoping to use what we learned and improve as a coaching staff and team.”

After their best finish at Nationals in more than two decades, the Falcons saw what they need to work on if they make it back there again. Understanding that the style of play is different in each conference will set the team up for success as they begin their quest to defend their OCAA Championship and try to advance back to Nationals.

The Falcons will be in tough to replace the production they lost from last year, but with the reigning OCAA Player of the Year leading the charge, the Falcons are eager to defend their title and will be ready for whatever challenge is thrown their way.

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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