Playing at the historic Wesmen Winter Classic basketball tournament in Winnipeg the UBC Okanagan Heat played three tight, competitive games but unfortunately could slip into the win column, dropping all three contests over the break.
The Heat were playing the tournament with nearly a quarter of the roster missing, including two regular starters, and kept all three final scores within 10 points.
The Heat opened the tournament against the host in the feature game on December 28th and fell to the hosts (72-62). On Saturday, against another Canada West foe, in the Brandon Bobcats, the Heat nearly pulled off the comeback but fell (65-64) on December 29th. To close out the tournament the Heat played Algoma University and dropped the Sunday afternoon (Dec. 30) game (57-54).
"It was great to have games over the break," states Heat head coach Bobby Mitchell, "I was happy with how we competed and gave ourselves a chance to win games. That said we need to take the next step, in both the Brandon and Algoma games we had chances to win and we have to be mentally tough to close out games, hopefully, we can take that with us to begin the second semester."
Outside of a five-point second quarter, the Heat played well on both ends of the floor in their first game. Jordan Korol finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds while Vanessa Botteselle nearly finished with a triple-double of 15 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds.
Tanya McKay, the head coach of the Winnipeg basketball team for the past 23 seasons, secured her 500th career win against the Heat.
Down by eight (54-46) going into the fourth, the Heat came back and held the lead over Brandon late until a 'Cats jumper sealed the win over the UBCO squad. Botteselle and Korol were once against the leaders for UBCO who also received great shooting from backup point guard Martina Mason, who was perfect from the field to add 10 points. Korol pulled in an astonishing 20 rebounds and added 14 points while Botteselle went 4-6 from three, scoring 20 points, dishing out seven assists and hauling in eight rebounds.
The third game on Sunday, against the OUA's Algoma Thunderbirds, ended in a three-point loss for the Heat, who will open the 2019 Canada West conference schedule against another Thunderbirds team.
UBC Okanagan travels to Vancouver this Friday-Saturday to match-up against the UBC Thunderbirds for games on Friday at 6 p.m. PST and then on Saturday at 5 p.m. PST as the regular season resumes action for 2019.