CALGARY, Alta. — Head coach Steve Shoults is gearing up for another run at the ACAC Championship in 2019-20.
Year after year, it seems as though the St. Mary’s Lightning are a team that can win the conference title despite their regular season finish. Two seasons ago, in 2017-18, the Lightning squeaked into the playoffs as the fourth seed in the South Division. From there, St. Mary’s went on to win the ACAC Championship and advance to the CCAA National Championships.
In 2018-19, the Lightning earned a sixth place finish at the ACAC Championships, but have their sights set on bigger things in 2019-20 with a talented roster back on the hardwood.
While the Lightning bring back their share of talent from last year’s team that went 13-8 in the South Division, Shoults has added a pair of talented transfers to the mix that should give the team a boost on both ends of the floor. Third year guard Jaiden Hansen (Okotoks, Alta.) and fifth-year guard Juhee Anderson (Cardston, Alta.) have committed to Shoults and the Lightning for the upcoming season, bringing with them a wealth of experience in the ACAC.
Hansen comes to the Lightning after two seasons in Calgary with the SAIT Trojans. Last season, Hansen saw action in 18 games for the Trojans, making five starts along the way for a team that went just 5-18 on the year. In limited action, the 5’8” guard averaged 5.2 points per game on 34.0% shooting from the field and 31.9% shooting from beyond the arc.
Known as a strong shooter from distance, Hansen is a player who can score in bunches when her jump shot is on. Twice last season she went for double-digit points, and one of those games came against the Lightning. Back on January 31st, Hansen went for 13 points while shooting 3-of-5 from long range in a 62-47 win for St. Mary’s over SAIT.
Earlier in the year, Hansen was 6-of-7 from beyond the arc in a 53-41 win for the Trojans over the Ambrose Lions. Hansen made the start and played 38 minutes on the night, finishing with 20 points.
Joining Hansen in a Lightning jersey will be Juhee Anderson, a veteran guard who comes to St. Mary’s University from the Lethbridge College Kodiaks. The fifth-year guard from Cardston, Alta. brings a wealth of experience with her to the Lightning, along with a ton of talent on both ends of the floor.
Last season, Anderson led the Kodiaks in scoring, averaging 14.8 points per contest over 19 regular season appearances. She shot 37.6% from the floor and 34.1% from three-point range on the year, while also adding 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per contest. Anderson was one of the more consistent scorers in the ACAC in 2018-19, reaching double-digit points in 14 of her 19 regular season contests.
Anderson topped the 20-point mark on six occasions, and she went for 30 points back on February 15th in a win over the Briercrest College Clippers.
The addition of both Hansen and Anderson will give the Lightning another boost on both ends of the floor, particularly on offense. Both players have the ability to take a game over when they find a rhythm with their jumpers, and both are tough defenders who make things tough for their opponents. Their experience from playing in the ACAC will help make the transition rather smooth, and the Lightning will look to reap the rewards right away.
From last year’s team, St. Mary’s will be without the services of guard Sydney Deighton (Calgary, Alta.), who was the team’s lone fifth-year player in 2018-19. While the rosters have yet to be finalized, adding Hansen and Anderson to a roster that could include returnees like Emily Wagner (Calgary, Alta.; 22.2 ppg), Hannah Helton (Okotoks, Alta.; 14.4 ppg), and Kennedy Burgess (Okotoks, Alta; 9.8 ppg), the Lightning have the look of the team to beat in the ACAC South Division in 2019-20.
– T. Bennett