The Rustlers women's basketball team travelled to Calgary on the weekend to participate in the SAIT Fall Classic. Nine ACAC teams and Douglas College from British Columbia participated in the tournament.
Thursday night, the Rustlers took on the Douglas College Royals. First year guard Kaitlyn Tonita came out strong for the Rustlers, knocking down three 3-pointers and adding a layup to give her 11 points in the quarter.
At the end of the first, the Rustlers led the Royals 16-12. In the second quarter, the Rustlers scoring went from outside the 3-point line to inside the paint. Fifth year forwards Shania Magnusson and Kellsey Sinnett and third year forward Brianne Hergott all played strong inside and put up points for the Rustlers, giving them a 32-27 lead at the half.
Both teams came out slow to start the 3rd quarter and, as play was sloppy for both teams. Fourth year forward Anna Mbuyi did a good job of attacking the basket and getting to the foul line for the Rustlers, but the slow and sloppy start to the quarter for the Rustlers caused them to relinquish their lead and Douglas to tie the game at 43 after three-quarters.
In the 4th, Douglas took control of the momentum and took the lead. First year guard Hailey Sommers was aggressive for the Rustlers in the quarter, slicing through the defence and attacking the basket. The Rustlers ran out of gas once Douglas took the lead and dropped the game 64-52.
Friday, the Rustlers took on the Medicine Hat Rattlers, who are expected to be one of the top teams in the South conference this season.
Medicine Hat jumped out to an early lead, but the Rustlers, who were lead by Magnusson early on, battled back. Medicine Hat, however, finished the quarter strong and led 15-10 after one. In the second, Medicine Hat continued to play well while the Rustlers struggled to finish. The Rustlers found themselves down 30-23 at the half.
The Rustlers struggles to finish continued in the 3rd quarter, as Medicine Hat outscored them in the quarter and increased their lead to 44-31. The Rustlers were sparked early in the 4th quarter by a foul called on 1st-year guard Jaden Cook. The foul was Cook's 5th of the game, resulting in her watching the rest from the bench. First year guard Ashlee Norman stepped up in Cook's absence with her passing and decision-making, and Mbuyi made some big baskets. However, the Rustlers could not complete the comeback, losing 55-50.
Saturday the Rustlers faced the host SAIT Trojans. The Rustlers started the game strong with fourth year forward Anna Mbuyi attacking the basket. A late push by SAIT cut into the Rustlers lead, and the Rustlers led 17-14 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, SAIT came out strong, starting the quarter on a 13-3 run which helped them build up a 42-27 lead at the half. In the third quarter, both teams struggled to score, and SAIT led 54-33 at the end of the quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Rustlers did a good job of pushing the ball and improved defensively. The Rustlers cut into the lead, but could not overcome the hole they put themselves in during the second and third quarters, dropping the game 70-57.
Head Coach Chris King was happy with what the team got out of the weekend. "We got to play all of our players," King said, "and saw good things from some of our freshmen. Kaitlyn Tonita shot the ball well Thursday night, and we saw good things defensively from Hailey Somers, and Bailey Johnson rebounded well. We faced the top two teams in the South, in Med Hat and SAIT, and did some things well against both of them."
The regular season begins on October 13th when the Rustlers will travel to Edmonton to take on the King's Eagles, with the home opener on October 14 against the same King's Eagles.