HAMILTON – It’s long been said that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.
For the Dawson Blues on Wednesday night, how they started helped how they finished in Hamilton.
The Blues used a big first half to put separation between themselves and the Red Deer Queens, and Dawson picked up a 68-51 win in their quarter-final matchup at the 2023 CCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship at Mohawk College.
It was the only ‘upset’ of the day, as the RSEQ Silver Medalists from Dawson College were seeded third in their half of the bracket while the Queens came in ranked second after their ACAC Gold Medal.
“Our mindset was to really push the ball,” said Sharmela Reid, who was named Player of the Game for the Blues. “We wanted to go fast and it really worked out well for us.”
Reid finished the day with 10 points, on 5-of-6 shooting, and four rebounds in the win.
Four of Reid’s points came in the opening three-plus minutes of the game, as the Blues came out of the gates quick. Dawson opened the game on a 9-0 run, leading Red Deer Head Coach Avery Harrison to take an early timeout to try and settle his team down. Janai Hubert got the Queens on the board on the first possession out of the break, and the Queens started to chip away at Dawson’s early advantage.
Red Deer got to within one late in the first quarter, but two late buckets from the Blues gave them a six-point lead after one.
In the second quarter is where the Blues put some significant separation between themselves and the Queens. After Sophie Melin connected on a three-pointer to open the quarter for Red Deer, the Blues went on a 12-0 run, one that stretched more than four minutes, to take a 30-15 lead.
But, they weren’t done there.
Later in the frame, out of a Dawson timeout with 2:47 to play and the score sitting at 30-20 for the Blues, they ramped up the pressure on both ends of the floor before the half was out. The Blues rattled off a quick 16-0 run over the final two-plus minutes of the half, with five points coming from Eden Monka. And, while Peighton Melton ended the half with a jumper for the Queens, the damage had already been done.
Dawson led 46-22 at the break, and didn’t look back in the second half.
Despite their sizable deficit, the Queens didn’t go down quietly. Red Deer outscored Dawson in the third quarter by a 20-8 margin, making a big dent in Dawson’s lead in the process. An 8-0 run for the Queens in a span of 44 seconds got Red Deer back to within 10 with just over two minutes to play in the third, but they weren’t ever able to seriously threaten Dawson’s lead.
Red Deer got as close as nine points in the fourth quarter, but they weren’t able to complete the comeback. Thanks to their big second half, the Dawson Blues will play in Thursday’s semifinals after a 68-51 win over the Queens.
Sophie Melin was named Player of the Game for the Queens after finishing with a team-high 20 points and three assists.
In the semifinals, Dawson will await the winner of Wednesday’s night cap between the VIU Mariners and host Mohawk Mountaineers, while the Queens will take on the loser of that matchup in the second Bronze Quarter-Final on Thursday afternoon.
- T. Bennett