Mikaela Stanton and Alyssa Montgomery have big shoes to fill with the Brandon University Bobcats women’s basketball team, but the American imports are looking forward to the challenge.
Last year, shooting guard Cassie Cooke lit up the Canada West conference with 23.6 points per game, but left the Wheat City before the school year ended. Stanton, a 5-foot-4 native of Vista, Calif., will replace her at shooting guard, while Montgomery, a 5-foot-11 product of Silver Springs, Md., will fill in at power or small forward. Both are gifted offensively and head coach Novell Thomas believes they will be big producers for the Bobcats this season.
"Make up for (Cooke) and more," he said. "There’s two of them versus one, so we should be better in terms of scoring and rebounding. We’ll see how it all unfolds."
Stanton joins the Bobcats after spending the last two seasons at Palomar Community College, where she averaged 16.7 points and 2.6 boards per game. Thomas approached her about coming to Brandon to join the Bobcats and the 20-year-old jumped at the chance to live in a new place. Stanton and Brandon’s other import, 5-foot-3 Aleah Bridges, will create a small backcourt for the Bobcats, but Stanton plans to use her stature to her advantage.
"I like to attack the basket, I like to shoot the three. I’ll pretty much shoot if anybody’s hands are down," she said. "I’m looking to put up as many points as I can and if I’m open help the team out by shooting, because that will be my role.
"I think it’s real exciting (with a small backcourt). With our size we can use our quickness to our advantage. To have two of us on the floor to have the speed and push the ball up on defence is going to be great."
Montgomery, meanwhile, is trained as a post, but will be working on her perimeter game a little more. She’s very athletic and has solid footwork in the paint, but wants to be respected on the outside as well.
Training camp, however, has been difficult for the 23-year-old. Montgomery, who played two years of college ball in the States before sitting out the last couple, tore ligaments in her right ankle during the summer and hasn’t been able to take part in practices. It has been hard for her as she wants to return to the court, but she’s focused on helping the team any way she can right now. Once she gets into the lineup, which may have to wait until the Bobcats’ regular season opener on Oct. 31, she could be someone to watch out for.
"I’m a very explosive player. I’m a very emotional player as well," she said. "I hope I can rub off on my teammates because I do not like to lose and losing makes me very, very upset. Everybody loses games, you win some and you lose some, but I’m planning on losing no games. That’s my mentality and that’s what I’m going into it as."
Brandon begins the pre-season on Oct. 3, opening their own tournament against the University of Manitoba Bisons.
CAT SCRAPS: Brandon University athletic director Russ Paddock put the finishing touches on the school’s bid to host the 2016 CIS women’s volleyball championship yesterday before submitting it to the CIS. The deadline for applications is today at 4 p.m.