On Saturday afternoon in Olds, the Olds College Broncos (5-4) defeated the sixth place nationally ranked Medicine Hat College Rattlers (8-2) 74-71 in a thrilling contest.
Dressing only six players, the ACAC's leading scorer Brittney Thibeaux was a workhorse for the Broncos, playing all 40 minutes, going 18-27 from the floor for a season-high 45 points. She added 10 rebounds for the double-double.
Kennedy Werre had another outstanding performance for the visiting Rattlers. Until the last seven seconds of the game, Werre was a perfect 7-7 from the floor, but missed her final shot of the game on a contested three-point jumper in an attempt to tie the game.
However it wasn't all Broncos from the get-go. The Broncos were able to battle back from a double-digit deficit to get the victory.
The Rattler's continued where they had left off from the night prior, as six different players filled the hoop in the first half, led by Werre who finished the first quarter with nine.
The Broncos struggled on the boards in the first quarter, only pulling down two, as the Rattlers went 12-18 shooting in the quarter to lead 28-16.
Whatever coaches Avery Harrison and Peter Sambu said to the Broncos between quarters must have worked, as the Broncos began the second on a 6-0 run to get themselves back into the game.
A Werre three point ball a few possessions later would put the Rattlers back up seven, but tenacious play under the hoop from Brittney Thibeaux led to baskets nearly every time she touched the ball early in the quarter.
A one-player wrecking crew of sorts, 14 minutes into the game, Thibeaux had accounted for 24 of the 30 Broncos points scored, but the team was still down 39-30.
The Rattlers clued in to the 6'0 forwards big game after that point, because the next two drives down the floor Thibeux received some extra attention from the Rattlers' bigs.
Two straight blocks ended with five transition points for the Rattlers, leading to a Broncos timeout down 47-31.
Only three Broncos players were able to find the hoop in the first half, with Thibeaux leading the charge with 28. Meanwhile Werre's first half 18 as well as Kendell Kuntz's 11 helped the Rattlers to a 53-39 lead.
Much like the start to the second quarter, the Broncos opened on a quick five-point run to get within nine of the Rattlers.
The defense stood strong early in the quarter, holding the visitors scoreless for the first five and a half minutes as Thibeaux would score an easy basket under the hoop to make the score 53-46 in favour of Medicine Hat.
Thibeaux took her strong play into the end of the quarter, scoring baskets on three straight possessions to put the Broncos within four points, down 60-56, the closest they had been since the first two minutes of the game.
On the next possession Thibeaux got smacked under the hoop, narrowly missing her shot, and would make a free throw to make it a one-possession ball game going into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter the Broncos would score on three straight possessions, going on a 8-0 run, forcing two turnovers on the defensive end to take a 65-60 lead, their first of the contest.
The Rattlers would get back into the contest, going on a 6-0 run, forcing two turnovers and two Thibeaux misses on the other end of the floor to take a 66-65 lead with under five minutes remaining.
The Broncos, playing exceptionally on the defensive side of the ball, had trouble showing the same fortitude offensively. The home team turned the ball over attempting to force the ball to Thibeaux, and again with three minutes remaining when Bajovic missed Alice-Fay Pitts on a pass on a 3 on 1 rush; a Meghan Cameron lay-up the next time down the floor would put the Broncos up 67-66 with two minutes remaining.
Exchanged baskets, and then an added Allen-Gullion free-throw would make the score 70-68 in favour of the Broncos with just over a minute remaining in the game.
Pitts would drive the hoop on the next possession, and, after only scoring once in the game before that point, would made the hugely important basket, getting fouled in the process to put the Broncos up four points.
A Bajovic free-throw would then put the Broncos up five points with 37 seconds left on the clock.
The Rattler's quickly managed to get the ball to Werre on the ensuing inbound, and with ice in her veins, she nailed a three-ball to get the Rattlers back within two. Bajovic would then go 1-2 from the free-throw line to put the Broncos back up three.
The Broncos shut the Rattlers down on their potential game-tying drive down the floor. Werre was forced to take a highly contested three ball for the game-tying shot, hitting the rim and giving the Broncos a win over the ACAC leaders.
- Brendan Stasiewich, Olds College Broncos Sports Information