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Wesmen best Bisons to reach Wesmen Classic final

Winnipeg's Jessica Dyck drives to the hoop against the Manitoba Bisons in the Wesmen's win Saturday, December 29, 2018 at the Wesmen Classic semifinal. (Shanlee McLennan/Wesmen Athletics)
Winnipeg's Jessica Dyck drives to the hoop against the Manitoba Bisons in the Wesmen's win Saturday, December 29, 2018 at the Wesmen Classic semifinal. (Shanlee McLennan/Wesmen Athletics)

DAVID LARKINS, Wesmen Athletics

With the team that won 88 games in a row in the 1990s in attendance, the Winnipeg Wesmen made sure they weren't going to be bested in a big moment by their crosstown rivals again.

Faith Hezekiah had 34 points and 18 rebounds, and Jessica Dyck hit a big lay-up with 31 seconds and the Wesmen women's basketball team held off the Bisons 72-68 in the semifinal of the 52nd annual Wesmen Classic Saturday night.

The 88-win team was honoured in a halftime ceremony, coincidental it was during a game against the Bisons, the same program that stopped that record run with an upset win in the same gym in the winter of 1994. 

Hezekiah would have fit right in on those Wesmen teams of the 80s and 90s, once again putting up a stat-stuffing performance that her team desperately needed.

But late in the game the Wesmen got big performances from other spots in the lineup, including Farrah Castillo, the diminutive point guard who scored nine points in the fourth quarter and 11 after halftime to help the Wesmen overcome what was once a seven-point second-half deficit.

"When we came in at halftime I challenged Farrah," head coach Tanya McKay said. "Farrah wasn't playing as Farrah could. She was quiet, and she was playing passive. I really think she stepped out in the second half and helped turn the game. She made some key plays down the stretch, going to the hoop, hit a three and really helped our team."

Castillo finished with 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. Dyck had a career-high 15 rebounds, and Robyn Boulanger had 12 points off the bench for the Wesmen, who will face the Regina Cougars in a 3 p.m. championship final on Sunday.

Nicole Konieczny led the Bisons with 25 points and Taylor Randall added 21. Lana Mackic chipped in 14.

Regina hung on to take out the Lakehead Thunderwolves 85-81.

Christina McCusker's 22 points led all Regina scorers. Kyanna Giles had 20, plus 11 rebounds and five assists. Michaela Kleisinger added 13 points.

Karissa Kajorinne led the Thunderwolves with 22 points, Leashja Grant added 15 and Nikki Ylagan and Tiffany Reynolds dropped 14 apiece. 

Manitoba and Lakehead will play in a 1 p.m. third-place final Sunday.

In other action, the Brandon Bobcats got past the UBC-Okanagan Heat in a consolation semifinal 65-64.

Lauren Anderson hit a layup as the buzzer sounded to give Brandon its first win of the event and put the Bobcats into the fifth-place game against Calgary on Sunday. 

Anderson had 17 points and 15 rebounds, and Hailey Maas added 15 points for the Bobcats. Laney Harder had 16 and Logan Biccum chipped in 10.

Vanessa Botteselle scored a game-high 20 for UBCO, which will play Algoma in a seventh-place game Sunday at 11. Jordan Koral with 14 and Martina Mason with 10 were the other players in double figures.

The Dinos had no problem with Algoma in the first game of the day. 

Calgary led 26-7 after the first quarter and 41-12 at half.

Erin McIntosh led the way with 18 points.

Karina Cole's 14 paced the Thunderbirds.