Matt Lafontaine and the Okanagan College Coyotes closed out their inaugural season last weekend at Langara. -Image: Douglas Farrow

OC Coyotes wrap up successful debut season

Okanagan College basketball program makes strides on and off the court, hopes for jump to PACWEST

If all goes as planned and approval is granted, both Okanagan College Coyotes basketball teams will be making the big step up to the PACWEST Conference next season.

The OC program made a strong case for its promotion to B.C’s collegiate league for 2018-19 with a successful inaugural exhibition campaign of play, both on and off the court.

The Coyotes put the finishing touches on their first season of competition with a trip to Vancouver last weekend to play at Langara College.

On Friday, the OC women got off to a slow start and went on to a double-digit loss to the Falcons. OC hit on just two of 19 shots from three-point range.

On Saturday, the Coyotes rebounded nicely to close out their season in style with a 67-53 win over Langara.

Megan Blair had a career and season-high scoring 36 points for OC, including nine three-pointers. Jessica Bergman added 11 points and Jenna Maclennan had eight assists.

“Our team showed a lot of character and mental toughness coming out with energy and playing smart,” said coach Andrew Gini. “We put ourselves in a position to shoot well, moving the ball well and hitting open shots all game.”

As for his team’s inaugural season, Gini said siginificant progress was made on and off the court.”

“In our first season for the Okanagan College we competed against top teams in the country won some big games and grew as a team,” said Gini. “We have an awesome group of players that are close off the court and want to put in the work in to compete for a championship next year. It won’t be easy but I believe we can build on this year and have the opportunity to come back and beat anyone in the country.”

Dino Gini’s men’s team closed out its season with a split against Langara. On Friday, the Coyotes couldn’t quite find their legs and went on to to lose 105-81.

A day later, in their last game of the season, OC responded with a solid effort and a 99-73 win. Curtis Wilson scored 29 points in the win, while Matt Lafontaine added 20 and Connor McCormack had 12 points.

“On Saturday our guys played the best game of the year, shooting almost 50 per cent from the three and almost 50 per cent from the field, we were simply really really good,” said Dino Gini, men’s head coach. “So proud of how they responded, such an awesome way to end our season. It was the perfect script for both teams and I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished.”

Gini, who was instrumental in founding the program last year, couldn’t have been much happier with the outcome of the Coyotes’ inaugural campaign and is optimistic about the Coyotes’ future.

“Both teams had the opportunity to play every PACWEST team this season, we played ACAC teams and some tough American teams so we had a very challenging season,” said Gini.

“To all of our players, we are so proud, we worked hard on and off the court, you were challenged to work hard on the court and you were challenged to reach out to the community and ask for help, thank you.”

Gini also sent accolades to team sponsors, the coaching staffs and the fans who supported the team this season.

Next up, the Coyotes will be holding their special March Madness Basketball Bracket with some big prizes.

The program also has an appreciation night planned for May 5.

For more information, go to www.okanagancollegebasketball.ca

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