Schedule makers came up with a great end product

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John Browne
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First place on the line as Sea-Hawks, Capers tangle at Field House

It's the series the home fans have been waiting for all season and, with first place on the line, the schedule maker couldn't have served up a better basketball treat at the Field House this weekend.

The Memorial Sea-Hawks, who hold first place in the Atlantic universities conference take on the second-place Cape Breton Capers six o'clock tonight and Saturday night.

Head coach Doug Partridge will look to guide the Memorial Sea-Hawks to at least one win and a guaranteed first-place finish in the Atlantic universities women's basketball conference when Memorial hosts the arch-rival Cape Breton Capers for two games at t

It's the series the home fans have been waiting for all season and, with first place on the line, the schedule maker couldn't have served up a better basketball treat at the Field House this weekend.

The Memorial Sea-Hawks, who hold first place in the Atlantic universities conference take on the second-place Cape Breton Capers six o'clock tonight and Saturday night.

If the Sea-Hawks, who are ranked seventh in the country, win at least one of the games, they will secure first place heading into the playoffs. Cape Breton needs a sweep to have any chance of clinching top spot. A pair of wins would give the Capers an outside chance at first as long as the Dalhousie Tigers earn a four-point win against St. Francis Xavier in the final game of the schedule on Sunday. That scenario would leave all three teams tied with 46 points. Then it will come down to points for and against differential among the top three. Dal hammered Saint Mary's Huskies 80-51 Wednesday night.

The Lady Hawks can finish no worst that second - meaning they are guaranteed a bye through the playoff quarter-finals- but Memorial coach Doug Partridge says first place would means they wouldn't see the Capers or Tigers in the semifinals.

"I think any team among us, CBU or Dal or ourselves would rather avoid one another in the semis," says Partridge. "(Fourth-place) St. Francis is tough, but we would probably rather play them then each other. That would be the importance (of finishing first) more then anything else."

Aside from the fight for first, MUN (16-2) has struggled offensively in three out of the past four games, but Partridge feels this weekend will be the big test in terms of where the team stands in that area heading into the playoffs.

"I think that how we play offensively will be better judged against CBU, If we can make plays against them then we are probably in good shape."

As far as how to beat Cape Breton is concerned, Partridge feels matchups against are a couple of Capers players are particularly important.

"(Kelsey) Hodgson is definitely a key, he say. "We have to do a better job of guarding penetration versus their point guards and try to do a better job on Keri Everitt, who is a very good player.

"If we can do better in those two areas and repeat what we were able to do against Hodgson ,we would be in pretty good shape."

Hodgson, who scored 46 points on Jan. 30 against University of New Brunswick, is the AUS leading scorer, with 25.8 points-per-game. The scoring title will be officially hers after this weekend. UNB's Amanda Sharpe is runner-up at 16.8 ppg.

Partridge feels this weekend games will be just as close as the games at CBU in January, when the Sea-Hawks won by scores of 74-71 and 76-74.

"Absolutely. They are very good, well prepared team that will be playing for their lives," he said. "We will need to be sharp and match or exceed their intensity. They should be good competitive games."

Vicki Thistle, third in AUS scoring, continues to be MUN's leader in points (16.2 ppg.), rebounding (7.1 rpg.) and field goal percentage (.574). MUN guard Kelly Himmelman is second in conference assists with a total of 97 for a 5.4 apg. average.

The Capers, meanwhile, are coming in with injuries to some players, according to coach Fabian McKenzie.

Although the CBU coach didn't elaborate on who is injured and the extent of the injuries, he referred to his team as "a walking MASH unit."

McKenzie said he hoped to "get through the weekend with enough healthy bodies to perform well in the playoffs."

He described his team's overall season to date as "a roller-coaster to say the least."

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Sea-Hawks, Field House, Dalhousie Tigers University of New Brunswick

Geographic location: Cape Breton, MUN, Saint Mary

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