#1 Canadian Mennonite University Blazers
The Blazers will be playing for a third straight MCAC title on Saturday, as they await the winner of Thursday’s semi-final. CMU topped the PUC Pilots 54-51 in a defensive driven game in last year’s final.
Shirliz Apiyo had 10 points in the second half of that game, making clutch shots at the end, while Jessica Marx-Houndle scored a double-double and was named finals MVP for the second straight year. Both players are back this season and the Blazers will hope to get similar production from the two vets.
All three MCAC teams had 10-plus wins this season, but the Blazers regained top-seed with a 12-2 record.
The CMU offence is fuelled by Julia Schatkowsky, who’s averaging a league best 20.7 points per game and Apiyo, who’s ranked second in scoring with 14.7 per game. Apiyo is also leading the MCAC in assists, averaging 5.33 a game. The Blazers win battles on the glass as well, and Marx-Houndle is second in the rebounds per game category with 10.2
The Blazers have had a strong season and will look to cap it off with a MCAC championship on Saturday.
#2 Providence University College Pilots
The Pilots will play the Rebels on Thursday with a spot in the final on the line. PUC would love nothing more than another shot at the Blazers after losing to them in last year’s final.
PUC finished with a 12-2 record, the same as CMU, but a seven-point differential in their two matches this season gave CMU the tiebreaker, and the bye straight to the final. Pilots’ head coach Joel Coursey is still happy with how his team has performed this season.
“We have had another strong season with positive outcomes. We have fared very well in the NIAC and MCAC schedules,” said Coursey.
The Pilots are led by Hannah Van Schie, a veteran leader for the team. She is third in the league in scoring, averaging 14.3 points a game and also comes up big on the glass, averaging 8.67 rebounds a game. Van Schie makes the most of her opportunities too — she is shooting 52.9 per cent from the field this seaon.
PUC guard Katelin Thiessen is another player to watch throughout the championship games. She is second in the league in assists per game and her 14 steals show she can be an x-factor on defence as well.
The Pilots will have to take care of the Rebels on Thursday night if they want another shot at the league title.
#3 Red River College Rebels
The Rebels will look to advance to the MCAC final this season, following a semi-final exit last season.
RRC is entering championship weekend on a tough 61-60 loss but will look to get back in the win column on Thursday. The Rebels and Pilots split their season series, the Rebels winning a close 67-63 game, and the Pilots winning the second match 63-59 — those scores imply we’re in for another exciting game on Thursday night.
The Rebels are led by Jodene Kowalchuk, who’s averaging 13.8 points per game and leading the MCAC with an average of 11 rebounds a game.
RRC puts an emphasis on defence, which is clear when you see three of the top five leaders in steals on the Rebels roster. Kowalchuk and Kyla Clarke lead the league with 21 total steals this season, and veteran guard Czyelle Mas rounds out the league’s top five with 13 steals.
Another player to watch is Alexis Arnold. She’s shooting 50 per cent from the field this season and is strong on the boards, averaging eight rebounds a game.
The Rebels will look to capture their first title since 2017.