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U Sask. Huskies women’s basketball chasing third ‘Bronze Baby’ at U Sports nationals

Click to play video: 'U Sask. Huskies women’s basketball team chasing third national championship'
U Sask. Huskies women’s basketball team chasing third national championship
WATCH: Clinching the top-seed at U Sports nationals, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies will have a shot at winning their third 'Bronze Baby' trophy over the past decade – Mar 5, 2024

A Canada West title is nice, but a national championship would be even nicer for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team.

The Huskies will face Canada’s best this week competing for a U Sports national title in Edmonton after claiming their ninth Canada West championship on Feb. 25.

“We learned the hard way last year how hard it is to win a Canada West championship,” said fifth-year forward Carly Ahlstrom. “But we know that’s only half of our goal this season. It’s great to get that, celebrate it, but we quickly changed gears and are focusing on Edmonton.”

Saskatchewan rolled through the Canada West tournament to defeat the University of Alberta Pandas 73-42 in the conference final, led by a game-high 28 points from guard Gage Grassick.

For just the second time in the program’s history, the Huskies will hold the top-seed at the U Sports tournament this week after finishing the regular season with a 19-1 record and dominating their three opponents in Canada West playoffs.

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Head coach Lisa Thomaidis has guided the Huskies to become national champions before and believes they have the mix again to contend for the Canadian university title in Alberta.

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“We’re going to be one of the most talented teams there,” said Thomaidis. “It’s just a matter of executing on the given day, getting a little bit lucky, staying healthy. All of those things that go into a championship team.”

Click to play video: 'U Sask. Huskies women’s basketball team wins 2024 Canada West championship'
U Sask. Huskies women’s basketball team wins 2024 Canada West championship

The Huskies will be competing for their third ‘Bronze Baby’ trophy in the program’s history after capturing U Sports championships in the 2016 and 2020 seasons.

Both Ahlstrom and Andrea Dodig were members of that 2020 Huskies squad and will look to lead the program back to the top of the U Sports mountain, using the experience they’ve gained from that championship run.

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“It’s not just the older people on the team having that championship experience,” said Ahlstrom. “We’ve learned from our alumni, we’ve learned from them in our scout team just having that experience. Obviously, coach bringing what she has to the table and our assistants, they’ve been there and they’ve done it.”

Over the past decade, Thomaidis has helped turn the Huskies into a perennial title contender and will be heading to her 14th career U Sports Elite Eight tournament.

She added the weight of preparation used to be a hindrance early in her career, moving away from the processes which caused ‘analysis paralysis’ towards trusting in their development throughout the season.

“It takes a lot to win a national championship,” said Thomaidis. “Part of it is that for sure, playing with confidence, not being too worried about what the other team is doing, trusting in what you do well. Then just knowing that the preparation has already been put in.”

Win or lose, this will be the final week of Ahlstrom’s illustrious Huskies career and will be pushing as hard as she can to bring a national title back to Saskatoon to write a final chapter in green and white.

“I’m definitely not taking it for granted at all,” said Ahlstrom. “I’m just so excited to have [possibly] three more games as a Huskie under coach, with my teammates and hopefully come home with some hardware at the end of it.”
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The top-seeded Huskies will begin the U Sports Elite Eight on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm Saskatchewan time in quarter-final action, squaring off against a Canada West rival in the University of Calgary Dinos.

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