The Brandon University Bobcats women’s basketball team made huge strides with two American imports on the roster last season, and next Canada West conference season fans will get to see what three can do.
Mikaela Stanton, a 5-foot-4 guard from Vista, Calif., and 5-foot-11 forward Alyssa Montgomery from Silver Springs, Md., have both committed to joining the Bobcats in the fall, which has head coach Novell Thomas pretty excited.
"It’s pretty big and I’m excited because they both want to be here," he said. "They visited us back in April and they enjoyed their visit. It’s great to see them play with our current crop of girls and the group that will be returning."
Stanton is transfering from Palomar Community College. She started 24 of the Comets’ 25 games and helped the team post an 11-3 record in Pacific Coast Conference play. She averaged 16.7 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, making 29.3 per cent of her 167 three-point attempts and hitting 78.9 per cent of her free throws.
Montgomery spent the 2010-11 season with the Southeastern Illinois Falcons, playing 26 games and averaging 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game before transferring to Howard Community College in Columbia, Md., for one year.
She hasn’t played junior college basketball in the past two years, but Thomas feels she’s ready to play.
He also thinks adding the two Americans to a roster with 11 returning players, including import point guard Aleah Bridges, will help the Bobcats play at a fast tempo next season and bring back some of the points the team lost with the departure of Cassie Cooke, the country’s leading scorer.
"Just (Stanton’s) ability to shoot the ball and to score (is impressive)," he said. "They played a full-court press game and run-and-jump style of play, so she’s used to playing at a high intensity at a fast pace, and that’s how we want to continue to play. I think with Alyssa and Mikaela, we’ll be able to play even faster than how we did last year.
"(Montgomery is) very athletic. I think her athleticism alone should allow her to score. We just want to be able to know early on in the season how we’re going to get the most out of our players. It took us a few weeks last season to get a sense of how we should play and we just have to make sure we know early on in the season how we’ll be at our best offensively and defensively."
Stanton and Montgomery join a recruiting class that includes Natalie Vachon and Logan Biccum from Virden as well as Hamiota’s Shayna Mathison.
The American imports were in Brandon for visits during the last month and practised with the team, and Thomas thinks they’ll fit in well, create more competition at practice and contributing solid on-court performances next season.
"It’s exciting to be able to find two import players who want to play, want to win, want to compete," he said. "I think it bodes well with the players we have returning, so I’m very excited."