The fourth season in the OUA for the Algoma Thunderbirds basketball teams looks promising as both teams notched solid preseason performances on the court. The regular season begins this Saturday with the Thunderbirds taking on rival Northern Ontario squad, the Lakehead Thunderwolves, in Thunder Bay.
On the women’s side, Ryan Vetrie returns as Head Coach for his seventh season with the Thunderbirds. He is joined by Assistant Coaches Anna-Lee Policicchio and Matt Oliveira.
With the help of newcomers Stephanie Labbe (Montreal, QC), Karina Cole (Lincoln, MI), Jamerka Martin (Milwauke, WI), and Rebecca Wylie (London), the squad has captured six wins in the preseason, including four USport (formerly CIS) victories. Returning to the squad is Karly Fracalanza (Sarnia), Sydney Resch (Guelph), Alyssa Dovigi (Sault Ste. Marie), Maireed Dunn (Kitchener), Marlee Ball (Waterdown) and Co-Captains Karissa Kajorinne (Thunder Bay) and Carriera Lameroux (Winnipeg, MB).
“We have made some significant improvements since last season and I believe with the returning and the new players we have added, they will allow us to compete this year. Our team needs to continue to work hard in practice and stay focused on the process,” said Vetrie.
Last season, the women posted a 1-19 record, after their lone win over the Waterloo Warriors. The squad averaged 28.4 percent from inside the paint, 28.2 percent from outside, and 68.2 from the charity stripe. The women averaged 46.4 points and 31.5 boards per game.
Thomas Cory returns for his 11th season with the men’s Thunderbirds as bench boss. Clayton Cain, Pat Murray, Kirk Reid, and Garnet Cory round out the coaching staff.
The men’s squad opened their preseason strong with two wins over NCAA Division III team, Olivet College. Four other wins have given the squad their best exhibition season to date since joining the OUA.
“We are looking forward to the start of the new season,” said Head Coach Cory. “We want to continue to compete where we left off in 2015-16. We’ve been working hard since joining the OUA in practices and recruiting to build a solid, competitive team. We’re finally at the place where we can be competitive every game.”
Five new recruits join the men’s line-up: Elijah Butler (Honolulu, HI), Taylor Smith (Vancouver, BC), Brandon Dwyer (Toronto), Nicholas Gehlen (Tampa, FL), and Damian Okungbowa (Toronto). Recruits are joined by veteran players Nikola Zorcic (Winnipeg), Jacob Clendinning (Orilla), Sean Clendinning (Orilla), Mithun Jaisankar (Toronto), Nathan Riley (Kitchener), Adam Benrabah (Victoria, BC), Calium White (Victoria, BC), Reng Gum (Surrey, BC), Nicholas Palazzi (Sault Ste. Marie), and Jermaine Lyle (Kitchener).
The men finished the 2015-16 season with a 5-15 record in the OUA West, with wins over the Western Mustangs, Waterloo Warriors (2), Toronto Varsity Blues, and Queen’s Gaels. The men shot 34.7 percent from inside, 30.9 percent from outside, and 68.5 percent from the free throw line. Algoma averaged 65.6 points and 33.6 rebounds per game.
Game times are 6:00pm (women) and 8:00pm (men) and can be streamed online at OUA.TV.
The Tbirds have two weekends on the road before their home openers on November 18th and 19th against USport powerhouses, the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa GeeGees.
For more information, including a complete schedule and roster, please visit algomathunderbirds.