Lancers shooting for gold in Bronze Baby tournament

When Lancer women’s basketball players triumphed on home court a year ago, they not only captured the first Bronze Baby trophy in school history, they also put an end to 19 years of Western domination of their sport.

If they are to repeat as Canadian Interuniversity Sport champions this weekend, the Lancers will have to do so in Canada West territory, with no fewer than four Western teams leading one of the deepest fields in recent memory.

This year’s tournament opens Saturday at the Jack Simpson Gym on the campus of the University of Calgary. The eight-team competition concludes on Monday with the gold medal final at 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Joining the fourth-seeded Windsor Lancers are the Regina Cougars, University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, Ottawa Gee-Gees, Acadia Axewomen, Saskatchewan Huskies, McGill Martlets and Calgary Dinos.

The Lancers open their title defence Saturday, playing Acadia at 7 p.m. Eastern.

A year ago, as the new regional qualifying tournaments were introduced, Saskatchewan found itself the only Canada West team in Windsor trying to extend the conference’s supremacy. The Huskies came close, reaching the national final for the first time in program history, but in the end settled for silver following a 63-49 loss to the host Lancers.

The Lancers are still a formidable team led by forward Jessica Clemençon, last season’s CIS player of the year, and guard Miah-Marie Langlois, most valuable player of the 2011 national title tournament.

“We are thrilled to make our fourth straight national tournament appearance,” says head coach Chantal Vallée. “It is a privilege every year to get a chance to compete amongst the best for the Bronze Baby. I am proud of my team and we can’t wait to start our first game. We have been waiting for this all year and we are ready.”

Read the full tournament preview, “No. 1 Cougars, Canada West hope to reclaim Bronze Baby,” on the CIS Web site.