As a second-year program, Heather Semeniuk couldn’t have asked for a whole lot more from her UBC Okanagan Heat.
With a respectable 4-6 record in Canada West play heading into 2013, the Heat continues make strides against the top competition in Canadian women’s university basketball.
“I think experience is such a big part of it, our returning kids have a year under their belts and they know what it takes to play at this level,” said Semeniuk, the Heat’s head coach.
“They just don’t quit and that’s the character of this team. We’re excited and really looking forward to the second half of the year.”
The Heat will tip off the 2013 portion of their Canada West schedule this Saturday, 5 p.m. in Kamloops against Thompson Rivers University.
The Heat have 12 games remaining—including seven at home—and will likely need to win at least half of those to have a realistic shot at a playoff spot.
With games against Canada West powers Fraser Valley, UBC and Calgary yet to come, the road won’t be an easy one. Still, Semeniuk hopes the challenge will bring out the best in her players.
“It’ll be tougher (in the second half) there’s no doubt,” said Semeniuk. “But the girls have come together so well and have really been stepping up in tough situations. We have to be realistic, but at the same time the girls really have a profound sense of what it means to be a strong team. The girls won’t back down, whoever the opponent is.”
The Heat took down Mount Royal, Brandon, UNBC and Manitoba in the season’s first half and, if not for a one-point loss to Mount Royal, could be right at the .500 mark. Still, Semeniuk has no complaints with the Heat’s progress.
“We let that one (Mount Royal) slip, but we also got a big win in Manitoba so we’re about where we thought we’d be,” said Semeniuk. “We’re winning of the games we should be winning, so that’s important for us.”
The Heat men’s basketball squad also returns to Canada West action Saturday night in Kamloops against TRU. Pete Guarasci’s squad heads into the second half with a 1-9 record, the lone victory coming over Mount Royal in November.
In exhibition action over the break, the Heat men defeated MacEwan University 101-52.
Steve Manuel’s Heat women’s squad looks to build off a stellar first semester as they return to Canada West action Jan. 12 and 13 on the road against the University of Regina Cougars.
The Heat (7-5) are tied for fifth in the conference standings and are ranked No. 9 in the CIS heading into 2013. Seven teams will qualify for the post-season.
Greg Poitras and the Heat men’s team will be looking for their first victory of 2012-13 when they visit the Regina Cougars Jan. 12 and 13.
The Heat, who have been without all-star Nate Speijer all season due to an appendectomy, are 0-12. Speijer will redshirt in the New Year to preserve his one season of remaining eligibility in the CIS.