Dalton's play has been nothing to sneeze at

John
John Browne
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AUS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP Lady Hawks' guard can't wait for MUN's semifinal matchup in Wolfville, N.S., today

Meghan Dalton has the sniffles, but that's OK. It will take more than an apparently insignificant head cold to keep the player they call "Moose" out of Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) playoff action here this weekend.

Besides, said the fourth-year Memorial Sea-Hawks' guard with a laugh, "I've got a constant runny nose."

Dalton, a five-foot-ten native of Harbour Main, finished the regular season with two impressive games against the St. Francis Xavier X-Women, scoring 19 points in one game and a dozen in the other, all while playing superb defence. She feels the late-season effort has given her extra confidence going into tonight's (6:30 p.m. NT) Atlantic universities women's semifinal against either the fourth-seeded University of New Brunswick or the fifth-seeded University of Prince Edward Island. Those two schools met in a quarter-final game Friday night, with the result unavailable by the Telegram's press deadline.

Memorial Sea-Hawks' guard Meghan Dalton looks to make a pass during practice this week. The Lady Hawks are in Wolfville, N.S. this weekend defending their AUS championship. Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

Wolfville, N.S. - Meghan Dalton has the sniffles, but that's OK. It will take more than an apparently insignificant head cold to keep the player they call "Moose" out of Atlantic Universities Sport (AUS) playoff action here this weekend.

Besides, said the fourth-year Memorial Sea-Hawks' guard with a laugh, "I've got a constant runny nose."

Dalton, a five-foot-ten native of Harbour Main, finished the regular season with two impressive games against the St. Francis Xavier X-Women, scoring 19 points in one game and a dozen in the other, all while playing superb defence. She feels the late-season effort has given her extra confidence going into tonight's (6:30 p.m. NT) Atlantic universities women's semifinal against either the fourth-seeded University of New Brunswick or the fifth-seeded University of Prince Edward Island. Those two schools met in a quarter-final game Friday night, with the result unavailable by the Telegram's press deadline.

The other semifinal will see second-ranked Cape Breton taking on third-place Dalhousie, which edged out sixth-seeded Acadia 69-67 in the Friday's first semifinal.

Dalton is anxious to play, no matter the opponent.

"I can't wait. I can't wait," she said after the Sea-Hawks' light, one-hour practice Friday afternoon at the Acadia University gym.

The defending champion Sea-Hawks looked loose in the laid-back workout, which was in sharp contrast to a very serious practice session earlier in the week at the MUN gym.

On Friday, the players were having fun in the shoot-a-round and even Partridge, who never raised his voice, seemed relaxed on the sideline as he watched his team go through their paces.

Dalton, meanwhile, seemed genuinely pumped for the semis and feels her role this weekend is to come off the bench to provide "a spark" for the team and play any position where she's needed

She earned her nickname "Moose" for her strength and aggressive play, but the moniker was actually was given to her by her older sister, Amy, a former standout for the Lady Hawks.

The younger Dalton also the sort of attitude Partridge likes to see in his players, especially during the the playoffs, which he says are all about somebody unexpectedly stepping up.

"Somebody's is going to have to do something," said the MUN mentor.

"When you watch a team win a championship, there's often an unexpected person who makes some big plays ... somebody who is isn't necessarily a key component during the season and then, all of a sudden, raises their game when it counts the most. Somebody perhaps like Megan Dalton.

"Moose," continued Partridge, "is someone who has steadily progressed. She's somebody who didn't get that much attention when her game was developing. But she's someone who has been doing good things defensively and with the ball for a while and it's just now all come together for her."

If the Sea-Hawks make it to Sunday's final - and Dalton, of course, believes they will - her preference is to play No. 2-seeded Cape Breton, which also has a bye to the semifinals and is one of three teams which has beaten MUN this season.

Teammate Vicki Thistle agreed.

"I think most of us want to play Cape Breton to show we can beat them. We know we are a better team than them...not to be cocky," said Thistle, before adding, with a smile, "I'd like to play Dalhousie, too."

Partridge doesn't have such strongly-held preferences.

"If Cape Breton were to get upset, that wouldn't make me cry in my beer. "But," he added quickly, "If we have to play Cape Breton, I don't fear them. There's no one that I fear."

jbrowne@thetelegram




AUS AWARDS

Quackenbush is AUS MVP again; Partridge wins fourth coach of the year award
Katherine Quackenbush of the Memorial Sea-Hawks has been named the Atlantic University Sport women's basketball most valuable player for a second straight year.
Quackenbush, a a graduating senior from Halifax, was also named the AUS top defensive player for a second time - she also won the award in 2005-06 - becoming only the second player in AUS women's basketball history to win both the MVP and the defensive payer of the year in the same season. Former Sea-Hawk standout Jenine Browne won both honours in 2003.
Meanwhile, Memorial's Doug Partridge has received the AUS coach of the year award for a fourth time. Partridge previously won the award in 1994-95, 2002-03, and 2003-04 and was named Canadian Interuniversity coach of the year in 2002-03.
Partridge, who guided the Sea~Hawks to a 17-3 record in 2007-08, a first-place finish and a bye into today's championship tournament semifinals at Acadia University, is in his 16th season as head coach of the Sea~Hawks.
AUS Major Award Winners
Most valuable player: Katherine Quackenbush, Memorial
Rookie of the year: Emma Puinker, Acadia
Coach of the year: Doug Partridge, Memorial
Defensive player of the year: Katherine Quackenbush, Memorial
Sylvia Sweeney Award: Kate McNeil, Dalhousie
Tracy Macleod Award: Brianne Ozimok, Acadia

Organizations: Atlantic Universities Sport, Acadia University, University of New Brunswick University of Prince Edward Island

Geographic location: Cape Breton, Wolfville, Halifax

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