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Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team proud of 2022 success
As the final buzzer sounded in Saskatchewan’s 80-48 consolation final victory over UPEI, it marked the end of another great run by the Huskies women’s basketball team.
The Huskies claimed another Canada West banner, the team’s fourth in five years. However, the team fell short at nationals, unable to defend their national title.
Despite finishing fifth in the country, the team was just happy to return to the tournament following the cancellation of the 2021 season.
“Coming into this season I had a bit of a fresher perspective on just really enjoying practice, enjoying the hard times, enjoying the good times more, because you don’t know when they could be over,” graduating fifth year guard Libby Epoch said.
“I was just super happy to play again,” graduating fifth year forward Summer Masikewich added. “I really wanted to play this season, just filled with joy because we’re super lucky that we got to have a full season.
“It was so much fun and I have so many memories.”
After a heartbreaking quarterfinals loss to host Queen’s Gaels, the Huskies rebounded to win out their remaining games to earn the fifth-place finish.
“After a loss like that, when your heart is set and your goal is set on a National Championship it’s pretty tough to come back and to feel like it’s even meaningful to play those other games,” Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis explained.
“But for us it’s much bigger than what we’re doing this year, for our young players to get that nationals experience, to play on the big stage and know what it feels like when you’re there and to have to perform.”
“We wanted to come back stronger and kind of show that we’re a really strong team and we wanted to show what Huskie basketball is all about and that’s like, playing with grit,” Masikewich added. “I’m really proud of how we came out as a team and finished on a strong note.”
The victory over UPEI signaled the end of an era for the women’s basketball team as it marked the final collegiate game for both Masikewich and Epoch, both of whom have made major impacts on the program over their tenure as Huskies.
“Both of those players, Libby and Summer, they’re two of the best that have ever played here, that have ever donned the green and white, hands down, no doubt about that,” Thomaidis said.
“From them coming here in their first year, winning a Canada West Championship and basically just repeating it every single year and winning a National Championship (in 2020),” she continued.
Read more: Shaping Saskatchewan: Lisa Thomaidis
“They’ve been a huge part of this, it’s been fun to see their growth, both of them are students of the game, both of them have continued to improve their game over each and every year and just their leadership as well.”
And the experience of being Huskies is one that both women are extremely proud of, making memories together both on and off of the court that will last a lifetime.
“Now I’m just trying to be in the perspective of, like, look back on all you’ve done and all you’ve accomplished rather than, like, the sad part of it ending,” Epoch explained. “So, I’m just so happy for the team, even to just cheer them on next year.”
“To wear Huskies across my chest the entire time was just amazing and I’ve really loved playing for the U of S and I’m excited to be a really supportive alumni,” echoed Masikewich.
Losing key players to graduation is a natural part of collegiate sports. It’s a wave that Thomaidis has ridden before and ultimately found success.
“It’s crazy, you know, seven years ago when Dallyce Emmerson and Laura Dally and that group were graduating as national champions I just remember going, ‘Oh my goodness, how are we ever going to be able to assemble a group as talented as this?’” Thomaidis recalled.
“The only thing that kind of kept me going was that we had Libby and Summer coming in, they were both on the junior national team that summer and I was super excited,” she continued.
“Now with them leaving it’s going to be a new era next year for sure, there’s going to be new players that are stepping in, returning players that are going to have to play much bigger roles. I think we saw a glimpse of Carly Ahlstrom and what to expect from her in the next couple of years; she really is an emerging star and was phenomenal down the stretch for us.
“Gage Grassick stepping in at point guard and playing large minutes at nationals, I think the future is bright for her. Tea DeMong, again another rookie and we’ve got some incoming players that I think are going to be fun to watch.”
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