Rivalries are most recognized when they involve two winning teams. However, there might be one rivalry that flies under the radar amongst two struggling OUA women’s basketball programs.
The Brock Badgers and Guelph Gryphons have had a similar past with their inability to either make the playoffs or get past the first round of the playoffs. Since the 2014-15 season, the Badgers have had a 31-40 record and the Gryphons haven’t been any better at 30-41.
Currently the Badgers have a 5-9 record this season, and are one spot out of the playoffs trialing Laurier and Guelph, who are tied at 6-8. The Badgers still play Laurier one more time this season, while they’ll play the Gryphons twice in six days starting this Friday.
The Badgers and Gryphons games on January 19 and 24 could be the difference between why one makes the playoffs and the others season ends early.
The two teams were in a similar situation a couple seasons ago as well. With one game left in the 2015-16 season, it was set that the Badgers and Gryphons would play each other in the first round of the playoffs. However, the final game of the regular season would determine who got homecourt in the playoff game.
The Gryphons and Badgers were tied at 10-8, with their final game of the season being against each other. The Gryphons would win the regular season matchup 57-48 and go on to host the playoff game, where they would beat Brock again 69-51.
Moving two years ahead, the two programs look completely different. In fact, only four players remain from the 2015-16 playoff game and all four are Gryphons.
This years Gryphons have the experience edge on the Badgers, especially with a chance of the Badgers being shorthanded this weekend.
This past week, Brock travelled to Algoma and only played with seven players – including their leading scorer, Kristin Gallant, being absent. The Badgers would lose the first of two games to Algoma, 66-55, but bounced back the next day for a 66-55 victory.
Brock would’ve liked to win both against Algoma as the Thunderbirds had a 1-11 record coming into the weekend. However, the Badgers are still within arms reach of a playoff spot.
The current OUA west standings have four teams battling for the final three spots: Western (7-7), Guelph, Laurier (6-8) and Brock. The Badgers already have victories versus Western and Laurier, with still a game left versus both teams. Guelph still has two games against Western and Brock, and one versus Laurier. And for Laurier and Western, they play each other one more time as well.
Focusing on the two Brock and Guelph games coming up, the two rivals will need to play their game. The Gryphons have been strong offensively, ranking eighth in the OUA in points per game. On the other hand, the Badgers have struggled offensively, but are the third best rebounding team in the conference. The Badgers also hold teams to 33.9 per cent shooting, fourth best in the OUA, so if they can defend the Gryphons and keep them off the boards, we are looking at two potentially close games.
If the Badgers are without Gallant the next few games, it will have to be their defence that needs to step up big. The rest of the roster was able to step up this past weekend without Gallant: Baelie Campbell averaged 20 points during the two Algoma games, while Courtney Mcpherson tied her career-high in points on Friday with 14 and Miranda Smith set a new career-high with 14-points on Saturday.
The talent for the Badgers is there and the experience is coming along as the season moves forward. It won’t be easy for the Badgers to hop over Guelph, Laurier or Western for a playoff spot, but the next two games against the Gryphons are must-win for the Badgers to have any chance.
Brock women’s and men’s basketball will continue their road trip this Friday, as they travel to Guelph. The women’s game begins at 6:00 p.m. and the men will play at 8:00 p.m. Both teams return home on Saturday to host Windsor. Games set to begin at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.