Battle at the Border features six college teams

The Wild Battle at the Border College Basketball Tournament is back again this year, Sept. 23-25

For the Townsman

The Wild Battle at the Border College Basketball Tournament is back again this year.

Cranbrook hosts this event to bring together teams from the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) that would not compete against each other in the regular season.The second Annual Wild Battle at the Border hosts two Edmonton teams, representing the North ACAC (Alberta Collegiate Athletic Conference) of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA):

Concordia University

Joining the tournament for the first time this season are the Concordia Thunder. Head coach Robbie Valpreda is excited to start their season at the Wild Battle at the Border.

“We are returning eight  players from last season team,” Valpreda said. “We have three High School transfers into the program as well as one transfer from Oregon, USA.”  Valpreda hopes to perform well and challenge to go 3-0 for the tournament.  The Thunder will face both PACWEST teams Capilano and Camosun as well as Ambrose University out of Calgary.

The Thunder have ACAC conference all-star Nakita Newman returning for her 5th year and are expecting great leadership on and off the court for Newman. Also returning is ACAC Rookie of the Year/North Sofia Lucadello who looks to have another strong season for the Thunder. Valpreda says “I expect all players will play a bigger role in a successful season that will look to bring the Thunder to their first playoff experience in March.”

University of Augustana

Joining the tournament for the first time this season are the Augustana Vikings.  The Vikings women’s basketball squad is led by head coach Kelly Lyons who is excited to debut her 2016-17 Vikings here in the Kootenay’s at the Wild Battle at the Border.

The Vikings have two players returning for their fifth year with the team.  Sydney Purdy and Sarah Warwick will begin their final season here in the Kootenay’s.

PACWEST — made up of teams from British Columbia — brings two teams to the tournament, all the way from North Vancouver and Victoria.

Capilano University

The Capilano Blues return this year after having a successful tournament last year where they were 3-0. Head coach Ramin Sadaghiani returns this year with high expectations for his team. “We had a lot of fun last year and we are excited to return this year. It looks like there are some good teams coming this year so we are looking forward to some great games.”

Carmelle M’Bikata returns for her 4th year. M’Bikata consistently led her team in rebounds during the 2015-16 campaign and is expected to pick up where she left off last season. M’Bikata also contributes by regularly scoring in the double digits. Also returning this year is 2nd year guard Reiko Ohama who played her High School Basketball at Norkam High in Kamloops. Ohama is looking to pick up as the deep threat for the Blues with the departure of All-Star Michelle Errico.

The returning players for the Blues are excited to connect again with the Wild Mascot who they definitely formed a bond with last year.

Camosun College

Joining the tournament for the first time this season are the Camosun Chargers. The Chargers women’s basketball squad made several outstanding achievements in 2014-15 despite their sixth place finish in league play.

The reloaded Chargers led by returning PacWest leading scorer and team co-captain Kathryn Candell has a supporting cast including returning all-rookie Tessa Lannon-Paakspuu, Isla Swanwick and Jade Heavener as returning vets coupled with a strong group of new recruits. Karli Hopp, Jasmine Montgomery Reid, Mia Roberts and Ali Wergeland will all add strength at both ends of the court.

Organizers are looking for anyone interested in preforming at the halftime of the games. If you are interested please contact Alan Nutini @ (250) 919-0831. In the weeks leading up to the event we will be highlighting the teams and some of the players to watch.

And two local players are returning to their high school gym for the tournament — both with Ambrose University.

Ambrose University

Ambrose University returns for the 2nd year to the Wild Battle at the Border.  Coached by Garth Mortis the Lions boast two local players at different ends of their playing career.  Mckenzie Lightburn and Katie Nutini return to their home gym to start their season.

Lightburn led the Mt Baker Wild to one of their best seasons (2015-16) in the last several years.  She played more than 30 minutes per game and finished most games with a double/double points and rebounds. Throughout the season she had four games where she had triple/triple games adding steals in the mix. “Kenz was a work horse for our team” said her coach and tournament organizer Al Nutini.  “I knew this was the kinda player any College would be excited to have, she works hard, always listens and holds herself accountable to always give her best. I absolutely loved coaching this player and was glad to see her move on to Ambrose and coach Mortis.”

Katie Nutini heads into year four that will see her complete her Bachelor Degree in Biology.  Nutini led her team in 3 point shooting percentage (37.2%) for the season and was named Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row.  The captain of her Ambrose team, she is hoping this year to continue contributing both on and off the floor.  “I love the game of basketball so much” says Nutini.  “I am so excited for this year; we have some great 1st year players coming in this season and we have two players joining us from Pheonix who have played in the Junior College program there.   It’s going to be a fun year and a fun tournament”

St Mary’s University

Joining the tournament for the first time this season are the St Mary’s Lightning. The Lightning women’s basketball program made their first appearance at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association National Championships for the 2015-16 season.  They are hoping to get there again this season with the return of ACAC All Star Montana Romerill.

Romerilll led the Lightning and the ACAC in points per game during the 2015-16 season.  Tournament organizer Al Nutini says “Montana is a very fun player to watch.  Offensively she beats you in transition but even if you can slow her down she can hit the deep 3 on you.  She goes to the basket hard; she has incredible confidence.”  Also returning for the Lightnig is MJ Ritchie who had dominant performances throughout 2015-16 and is hoping to continue for the 2016-17 season.  The expectations for the Lightning are high this season and they hope to start the preseason with some great games and a terrific experience here in the Kootenays.