Saskatchewan Huskies seniors look back ahead of U Sports women’s basketball championship

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WATCH: Three graduating members of the Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team can achieve something special at nationals – Mar 5, 2020

As the Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team prepares to take the court at the U Sports Final 8 in Ottawa, three players have a chance to finish their careers in style.

The group also has the rare opportunity to win multiple national titles.

Sabine Dukate, Megan Ahlstrom and Vera Crooks were all part of the Huskies’ first-ever national championship in 2016.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan Huskies seek second national women’s basketball title

While Dukate was the only one who saw significant action that season, all three players gained valuable experience that has guided them throughout their respective careers, during which the team has made it to the Final 8 every year.

Dukate, who previously played professional basketball in her native Latvia, said she has come a long way from when she first contacted Huskies head coach Lisa Thomaidis about the possibility of joining the team.

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“I think I have grown a lot. I have switched positions here and played different kinds of positions and different styles of basketball,” Dukate said.

“I had to learn how to play here. I was so used to playing static basketball, more, like, system dominant, when here it’s a lot of movements and ball movement and more of team basketball than just flat-out one-on-one.”

Dukate’s pro experience allowed her to jump right into the Huskies lineup as a rookie.

READ MORE: A look at the teams in the U Sports women’s basketball tournament

Ahlstrom’s university career began much differently.

“It goes so fast. I honestly remember being in my first year and (All-Canadian) Laura Dally being the one that I had to guard every day and it was quite a different experience obviously,” Ahlstrom said.

“It wasn’t as fun in my first year but I learned so much and it’s allowed me to be where I am today.”

“I’m really grateful that I came here and that I’ve had these five years’ experience with this team.”

Ahlstrom, who hails from Calgary, has found a second home in Saskatoon with the Huskies, so much so that her younger sister Carly eventually followed her to the program.

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For Crooks, a native of Fife Lake, Sask., it was the opposite. Her older sister Sarah graduated as one of the Huskies’ greatest players, if not one of the best in Canadian university basketball.

However, the junior Crooks has carved her own path.

“It’s been a long road, for sure. My first few years I was pretty quiet, didn’t get a lot of minutes and then there came a few injuries and stuff like that so I had to work through,” Crooks said.

“Last year I tore my ACL, so that was a long rehab process for sure, but (injuries) always kind of teach you what you want, basically, so I really wanted to work hard and grind and get back.”

READ MORE: For 1st time, Canadian university basketball championships occurring in same venue

Crooks recovered in time to play the second half of the current season and now she, Ahlstrom and Dukate have a chance to do something special.

“It is pretty cool with the three of them having started their careers as national champions and not playing as much of a role, with the exception of Sabine, but now being in the situation where we’re going to rely on them, we’re going to count on them,” said Thomaidis.

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“They’re going to have to play well for us to go deep into (the national championship) tournament.

The Huskies tip off the Final 8 on March 4 with a quarterfinal matchup against the host Carleton University Ravens at 8 p.m. ET.

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