Huskies defeat Lakeland 80-38 in pre-season opener

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Gage Grassick of the Saskatchewan Huskies handles the ball during pre-season action at Carlton's CPAC gymnasium on Thursday.

It was a successful start to the pre-season for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball team as they defeated the Lakeland College Rustlers 80-38 at Carlton’s CPAC gymnasium on Thursday evening.

Huskie head coach Lisa Thomaidis says she likes what she saw from the Huskies defensively.

“I think we’re a better defensive team than we were last year. We have the makings to be a better defensive team. I thought we were pretty tenacious. We brought a lot of help, caused a lot of turnovers and we were able to get out of transition, so that was great. I was happy about that.”

The Huskies were invited to play a pre-season game at Carlton, which is something they had done in the past. Thomaidis says the

“We got invited and that’s an awesome time. It’s great to get back here and play in front of family and friends for people like Gage Grassick and to showcase our players to Prince Albert and women’s basketball to the community. We’ve had some amazing players come from here. We want to continue that trend.”

It was a homecoming for Carlton grad Gage Grassick who posted 16 points on the night for the Huskies. Grassick graduated from Carlton in 2020 and never got a true final game as a Crusader because of the pandemic. She says she was grateful for all those who came out to support the Huskies.

“It was super awesome, seeing how many people came out to support. Not me, but the Huskie team was just a surreal feeling, so I’m super grateful for that.”

Growing up in Prince Albert, Grassick looked up to both Dalyce Emmerson and Erica Gavel who both played basketball for the Huskies and are both members of the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame. Both attended the game on Thursday night.

Grassick says she hopes she was able to have a positive impact on younger basketball players in attendance like Gavel and Emmerson had on her.

“Those are two really big influences in my life and I’m super close with both of them. So just to see them here in the crowd brought back great memories and then, like I said, hope to make some memories with some younger generation too.”

Across the court, St. Mary alumni Mykylla Vachon suited up for the Lakeland Rustlers. Although it wasn’t the gym she played her home games in during high school, Vachon says it was super special to play in Prince Albert.

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Mykylla Vachon of the Lakeland Rustlers dribbles the ball upcourt during pre-season action at Carlton’s CPAC gymnasium on Thursday

“It was super special. It felt really good. Lots of excitement going into it. I think having a big crowd like that was super fun. And I think we came out really strong in the second half, which was awesome. And we came together as a team, so it was really enjoyable.”

Vachon and the Rustlers will be hosting the Canadian College Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Basketball National Championship in Lloydminster from March 13-16, 2024.

She says the competition against the Huskies and the atmosphere at Carlton provided a great experience for her team.

“I think it was a really loud environment. I think that’s a good environment to play in because it’s going to be super loud at nationals and just getting that experience early on will help us later.”

Lakeland College will open up their 2023-24 Alberta College Athletics Conference (ACAC) schedule on Friday, Oct. 13 when they take on the Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder in Lloydminister. The University of Saskatchewan Huskies open their 2023-24 Canada West Conference schedule on Friday, Nov. 3 in Edmonton against the University of Alberta Pandas.