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Axewomen open regular season as U SPORTS No. 3 ranked squad

Len Harvey talking to Paloma Anderson in AUS semifinal game vs SMU. - Peter Oleskvich
Len Harvey talking to Paloma Anderson in AUS semifinal game vs SMU. - Peter Oleskvich

In preseason play, the Axewomen posted an 8-1 record

While the 2016-18 season was somewhat a disappointment for the Axewomen basketball team, it was only that because of a close loss to Cape Breton in the AUS women’s basketball final.

That disappointment has not sat well with most of the Axewomen, including several veterans who have returned for their final year wearing the red and blue of Acadia.

In preseason play, the Axewomen posted an 8-1 record, losing only to the 2018 U SPORTS championship host Regina in Acadia’s first game of the Calgary Cup in early October. Ranked as the No. 3 team in the U SPORTS Top Ten preseason ranking, the Axewomen are expected to turn some heads as they have done so in exhibition play.

Phenom Paloma Anderson returns for her final year of eligibility with Acadia. The 2015-16 AUS Most Valuable Player of the Year, Anderson has led the AUS in scoring for the last two seasons including last year’s 22.8 points per game. In exhibition play this season, Anderson has averaged 19.3 points per game.

Also returning as fifth year seniors are Chanel Smith, Katie Ross and Allie Berry. Smith, who was an AUS All-Star last season, was second in team scoring with 14.8 points per game average, while Berry was one of two leading rebounders for the Axewomen with 6.9 rebounds per game and 10 blocks last season.

While the veteran lineup will be key to the Axewomen’s success this season, the performance of third year forward Kelsey Rice and sophomore guard Haley McDonald are important for the Axewomen. Rice was Acadia’s leading rebounder in only her second season, while McDonald was vital off the bench.

“It’s experience again. It’s funny, I have been around the AUS championship games a few times. Some on the losing ends and some on the winning ends. I think you have to lose there to win there. I think we are learning from that experience just by seeing we have eight of our returners stay here in the spring and summer and find work in Wolfville so they could stay here and train. We are seeing the evidence of that right away,” said head coach Len Harvey when asked what he needs to carry over from last season to this season.

Newcomers this year include standout CEGEP Division 2 MVP Rachel Clouâtre-Trudeau. A member of the Geants de CEGEP Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Clouâtre-Trudeau won both Regionals and Provincial Division 2 titles in 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons with the Geants.

“She has been fantastic. She had some high scoring games. She has been great. She’s a CEGEP kid, so she is a little bit older and fits in right away,” said Harvey.

Other new faces to hit the court for the Axewomen in exhibition play include Atlantic Canadians Miranda Crawley (Halifax, N.S.), Taylor Tolliver (Cole Harbour, N.S.), Kaisen MacKinnon (Cole Harbour, N.S.) and Claire Ayotte (Perth Andover, N.B.).  Sarsha Cadle, from Melbourse, Australia will add some size as a 6’1” forward.

“Honestly, they have all played well in different games and have shown positive moments in practice or in games. We have been quite happy with our freshman class so far,” noted Harvey.

The Axewomen open the regular season this Saturday evening at 6 p.m. against the visiting Memorial Sea-Hawks. The Sea-Hawks will have a two-game stand at Acadia with game two on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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