Gee, what a start to 2013 for the UBC Okanagan Heat men's basketball team.
Yassine Ghomari and Mitch Goodwin both scored 20 points as the Heat defeated their B.C. Interior rival Thompson Rivers WolfPack 76-59 on Saturday in Kamloops.
It was an especially auspicious start to the new year for Ghomari, as the Vancouver native was playing in his first game since going down with a knee injury in the first quarter of the Heat's opening CIS Canada West game of the season at the Unversity of Victoria.
The veteran guard gave an indication of what was in his store for his season restart as he stole the ball on the opening tipoff and went down court for an uncontested layup to give the Heat a quick lead.
UBCO's leading scorer last season with a 17.2 points-per-game average, Ghomari also finished with a flare, scoring eight of his points in the final quarter and netted six straight points in a one-minute span at a crucial point late in the game.
The WolfPack had just erased a 12-point Heat lead with a 17-3 run to start the fourth quarter. TRU's fifth-year point guard, Kevin Pribilsky, led the way, scoring nine points in the rally. He also hit a three to deadlock the game at 57.
With three minutes to go in the game, Ghomari then gathered his own rebound over three TRU defenders; calmly dribbled back out to the three point line; and proceeded to bury the long range shot and put the Heat back on top. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
Meanwhile, Goodwin, in his freshman year, after an outstanding high school career with the Kelowna Owls, iced the game game with a three-pointer of his own with just 90 second remaining. Also leading the team in rebounds with eight, Goodwin scored six points in the final quarter.
First-year guard Greet Gill of Osoyoos was the only other Heat to reach double figures, finishing with 11, as his team improved to 2-9, while the WolfPack fell to 4-7.
Rookie coach Pete Guarasci said he was proud of the Heat's effort in their return to the court after the Christmas break.
"We sustained the intensity throughout game - not only our physical effort but our mental effort. We stayed focused and we guarded well and did some good good things on offence to be in a position for good percentage shots. I was really happy with the way the guys executed the game plan."
The Heat are back in action on Friday on home court when they play host to the University of Calgary Dinos (4-9) beginning at 8 p.m. On Saturday, they take on the Lethbridge Pronghorns (5-5) at UBCO beginning at 7 p.m.
A lack of healthy bodies and a heavy dose of Diane Schuetze resulted in the UBCO women's basketball team hobbling home from Kamloops on Saturday.
Schuetze, a Vernon Secondary School grad in her fifth year with the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (8-3), scored 28 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a 91-54 waltz by the UBCO Heat (4-7).
"She is going to be a handful for anyone not just in our league but throughout the country," said Scott Reeves the head coach of TRU. "She is definitely a fifth year All-Canadian, there is no question."
The 91 points scored by the WolfPack was a season high and they scored many of those as a result of turnovers that plagued the Heat in their return to action from the Christmas break.
UBCO coughed up the ball 36 times and head coach Heather Semeniuk pointed to her team's lack of ball control as a key factor in the loss, and the team's defensive woes. The WolfPack were able to turn those turnovers into easy buckets, netting 32 points directly off of UBC Okanagan miscues.
"We were a little bit out of it," Semeniuk said. "We are a bit sick and injured, but they are a great team. They move the ball well and they are very disciplined with their offense. We just need to step up and play better defence and get our offence going."
Sarah Allison, still battling a flu, led the Heat once again in scoring with 12 points, while Emily Kanester and Madison Kaneda, both of Vernon, knocked down 10 points each. Kaneda pulled off the double-double with her team-leading rebounding total of 10 boards.
The undermanned and undersized Heat lost their main post player, Krystal Schouten, just 10 minutes into the contest to a knee injury.