TORONTO, ON – We’re down to two teams. After a shortened season and a great playoff push, the OUA has narrowed it down to two teams who will play for the Critelli Cup. This afternoon in St. Catharines, the Brock Badgers will host the Rams in the 2020 Critelli Cup rematch. Two undefeated teams have made their way to the final, but only one will hold the trophy once the game ends Saturday afternoon.
12-0 in the regular season, a win over the McMaster Marauders and Western Mustangs to make it back to the Critelli Cup final, the defending OUA champions are back and ready to defend their title. They started the year with the impressive play of rookie Madalyn Weinert and OUA West MVP Sam Keltos, and as the year went on, the pieces around them made their presence, and they rolled through the division. A close 4-point win over the McMaster Marauders in the quarter-finals gave them a bit of a jolt. Still, they responded with a great victory over the 11-1 Mustangs, both games without their star Sam Keltos, and this team has adapted and continues to find contributors.
Whether it’s Kaley DeMont shooting a trio of 3s in the middle of the game, Victoria Lawrence getting extra possessions by picking pockets, or Maddi MacInnis getting on the glass, the Badgers needed to find depth to replace the presence of Sam, and they’ve seen it game after game. They’ve been a strong team on the boards throughout the year, giving up very few offensive boards and using their fight to win second chances.
They’ve gone smaller without Sam, and their tenacity is paying off. They’ll need to contain the guards of the Rams to help them in the Critelli Cup, and their rebounding will have to be better than it’s been to battle the size advantage the Rams will have. The Rams are a consistent team, so counting on missed shots won’t help the Badgers’ chances; they will have to be active on defence, disrupting the play of the Rams and control the boards to give them better opportunities and help the scoring be there.
The Rams went through the regular season undefeated, and they’ve looked imposing. They are a phenomenal defensive team, and they attack their opponent’s weakness relentlessly, with success more often than not. They play with excellent fundamentals and don’t beat themselves, making them a tough team to beat as teams have had to play close to flawless to stay in front of the constantly attacking Rams squad.
What stands out most about the Rams squad is their depth. Everyone has a role on the team, and they have a full roster of people who can and will contribute on a nightly basis. The starters are five solid 1on1 defenders who on the offensive side attack differently, and down their bench, they have starter quality players who allow the Rams to give players rest without much worry about a drop-off in play on the court.
The Rams attack the glass; they control it in almost every game they’re in, and their size can cause a severe problem for the Badgers. They have the scoring prowess to keep up with this Badgers team, the shooting of Stefanija Mrvaljevic, the agility of Kaillie Hall and Jama Bin-Edward and the technical excellence of Eleanor Jones and Rahel Farwell in the paint. Using their length and height to disrupt will put them over the top. How the Rams can defend drives to the paint without having to switch or double really can disrupt the play of the Badgers guards, and having Mikaela, Stefanija, or Kaillie lead the Badgers guard into the paint will allow for a double from Rachel or Eleanor. They can trap the Badgers into turnovers which will help put the Rams over the top as the game goes on.
It will be a thrilling rematch between the top two teams in the OUA. The Rams remember what happened when the Badgers came into the MAC in February of 2020, and now the Rams have the opportunity to give the Badgers the same feeling in their own gym. The Badgers haven’t missed a step since their 2019-2020 run, and their momentum has only built. They are hungry to hang up another banner, and they are as confident as ever that even without one of their star players, they can get it done and remain the best team in OUA Women’s Basketball. The Critelli Cup final will take place at noon on March 26th, and it’s a game you won’t want to miss between two teams who are very familiar with each other.