Lords-Falcons playoff matchup is a family affair

Durham Lords Kendra Oliver pushing the pace of the game earlier this season in a game against Algonquin. Photo credit: Allan Fournier

There are a lot of similarities between the Durham Lords and the Fanshawe Falcons as they face off in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) women’s basketball quarter-finals Friday.

• both teams have several family members on their respective coaching staffs

• both teams have been on lengthy winning streaks this season

• both teams have one player in the top-six in scoring in the OCAA

• both teams finished in the top three in their conference standings, Durham in the East, Fanshawe in the West

Durham Lords Head Coach Heather LaFontaine talking to the team during a timeout earlier this year against Algonquin.
Durham Lords head coach Heather LaFontaine talking to her team during a timeout earlier this year against Algonquin. Photo credit: Allan Fournier

Lords’ head coach Heather Lafontaine says it’s pretty cool having two family-oriented coaching staffs facing off against each other. Lafontaine is joined on Durham’s coaching staff by her children Danny, John and Kauri.

Fanshawe, meantime, is coached by Bill Carriere, assisted by his wife Theresa and their two daughters Danielle and Nicole.

“I’ve known Bill for a long time. It was pretty funny last year because we were both at the OC’s (Ontario championships) and we were doing introductions and it went ‘LaFontaine, LaFontaine, LaFontaine, Carriere, Carriere, Carriere’, so it’s kind of funny,” says LaFontaine.

The Lords finished with a 13-3 record and the Falcons finished the season 17-1. Fanshawe is ranked fourth in Canada.

Fanshawe Falcons head coach Bill Carriere.
Fanshawe Falcons head coach Bill Carriere. Photo credit: Fanshawe Falcons athletics

Bill Carriere says the Falcons are ready for Friday’s game, which is being played in Windsor, starting at 3 p.m.

“We’re looking forward to the weekend, it’s going to be a difficult weekend. Hopefully three games in three days unless we lose to Durham,” says Carriere.

He says the Falcons are well-balanced.

“We’re a fairly deep team witch is very important for this weekend. We can go 10 (players) deep – we’re very fortunate to have that as most teams don’t have that luxury,” says Carriere.

He says it will be a tough game for the Falcons.

“We know Durham has a good squad, they have talented players. We have been watching film and this will be a very challenging game. I’m looking forward to it,” says Carriere.

He says stopping Durham forward Kendra Oliver, who sits third in OCAA scoring, averaging 19.6 points per game, will be top priority for the Falcons.

“She’s a good talent, we have a couple players in mind to defend her. She has good speed, she can drive to the basket, she can shoot. It won’t be an easy task for us we’re going to try to limit her as best we can,” says Carriere.

Falcons’ guard Chout Angou is sixth in scoring in the OCAA averaging 18 points a game.

“She is a very great talent, she is very competitive, doesn’t like to lose. She is a great performer in practice and when you like to practice you’re probably a really good player. She is the key to our team,” says Bill Carriere.

Heather LaFontaine says the pressure is on the Falcons to win as they are the favourites.

“We don’t have anything to be nervous about because we are the underdogs,” says LaFontaine.

“I feel very confident. I feel like we can beat them. I have very high hopes for our team. I know we can win this game,” says Kendra Oliver,

Oliver says the Falcons have an older, veteran team.

“They just have more experience than us as we are a fairly new and young team,” says Oliver.

“I’m like a ten out of ten excited. I have been pumped for the game since we won Saturday. I’ve been watching Fanshawe games so I’m ready,” says Oliver, adding she’s sick of hearing the West is better than East in the OCAA.

“I want to prove a point. It’s not always the West is better than the East. The East is just as competitive as the West. Don’t bring us down just because we play in the East, like we actually play defence,” says Oliver.

She says she is not worried about the Falcons being ranked fourth in the nation.

“Rankings don’t mean nothing they are just numbers beside your name we just want to win,” says Oliver.

Durham guard Andrea Zulich is averaging 12 points and seven rebounds on the season and says she excited for this challenge as this is her first time passing the first round in the playoffs in her career.

“I’m so excited this is my first time passing the first round of playoffs. At Laurentian we lost every time in the first round,” says Zulich, who played four years of university ball.

She says the Lords are a dynamic team.

“I think we have a really special group of girls. We’re all really close and very talented. I think we have a big opportunity to succeed in this playoff run,” says Zulich.

She says the Lords have the pieces in place to win a championship.

“I’m very confident that we can go all the way. All my faith is in our team. I know we can do it,” says Zulich.