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Briercrest College Clippers making waves in women's basketball

Series of victories over top-ranked ACAC teams has Briercrest College confident as playoffs approach
The Briercrest College Clippers women's basketball team hasn't had a lot of luck over the years, often finding themselves struggling at the bottom of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference South Division.

But the past is the past, and the 2018-19 version of the Clippers – under the tutelage of first-year coach Danny Vincent – have found themselves knocking off elite teams on a regular basis, to the point they now find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot.

That would be exciting enough for a team that hasn't reached the post-season since 2000-01 – but given who they've defeated in recent weeks, there's a bit of extra buzz around the Caronport-based squad.

That is due to an 85-80 win over Olds College, then ranked fifth in the nation by the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. Or an 87-80 win over CCAA second-ranked Medicine Hat. Or an 82-75 victory over ACAC South second-place St. Mary's University.

“Right now, 8-9 doesn't reflect how good we are,” Vincent said. “We had a bit of a rough start with 10 new players, a new coach, a new philosophy and a new culture, so it was a hard start for us, but we've turned the corner and now we're right there.”

The Clippers have been led by guard Adrianna Beck, who has averaged 20.9 points per game while boasting a 42.9 three-point percentage, good enough for third and second respectively in the ACAC. Amber Tilcox has given Briercrest a solid inside presence, averaging 11.4 rebounds to six second overall in the league.

As well as things have gone as of late, the aforementioned tough start sees the Clippers holding an 8-9 record and needing to win out in order to have a shot at the postseason. They travel to Lethbridge (12-5) for two games during the Feb. 15 weekend, followed by a two-game home set against last place Red Deer College (2-14) Feb. 22-23 to close out the regular season.

“We'll need to win our last four games to get in, and we can do it,' Vincent said. “We're a little banged up right now with some minor injuries, so our longevity to win two games in two days might be tough, but we definitely are capable of winning all four games and if we do we should be in the playoffs. And there aren't very many teams that want to play us in the playoffs.”

The key will be finding the level that's given them wins over top teams and maintaining that kind of play for all four contests. The top four teams in each division advance to the playoffs, with the Clippers currently in fifth place, eight points back of Olds – hence the need to win out.

“It's basketball, so anything can happen on the court, but I think we are a top tier team and we are on the same level as teams like Olds and Medicine Hat right now, so we should be the favourite to win both against Lethbridge,” Vincent said. “And no disrespect to Red Deer, but we should beat them two times as well. So the possibility to win all four games and get into the playoffs is pretty high.”

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