Women’s Basketball Team Preview

Friday, October 13, 2023


It’s run-and-gun basketball to say the least; Take 100 shots, make half the 3-pointers you attempt, force 30 turnovers, rebound one-third of your team's own misses, and outshoot the opponents by 30 attempts. That’s the system that 12th year bench boss, Joel Coursey has embraced and what makes the Providence Pilots “must-watch” basketball. It’s also why, on any given night, Providence could make the headlines by upsetting a prominent opponent.

The Pilots take their “all-in” show on the road this weekend, starting their competitive season on Saturday in Saskatchewan against the ACAC’s Briercrest Clippers.

The team that finished 13-15 in 2022-23, will enter without the likes of Trinity Blair and Megan Wiebe who were major contributors to the Pilots successes on both ends of the court. Blair posted the Pilots second-highest rebounding total while Wiebe caused Providence’s opponents to turn the ball over more times than any of her teammates. On top of that, the two combined for almost 20 points per game; numbers that Coursey will rely on newcomers to pick up, as the absence of these two veterans inevitably presents the opportunity of added court time for whoever can prove themselves worthy.

  “Last season was about building a new program and establishing a new way of playing the game,” explains Coursey, “we have grown our program through strong recruiting, and we are looking to build on the foundation we laid last season.”

That foundation starts with backcourt scoring and Abby Matuszewski (Winkler, MB). Entering her third season with the Pilots, the 5’3 guard averaged a team-high 10.6 points per game in 2022-23 and was selected to the MCAC All-Conference team. She also led the Pilots with 76 made-threes while averaging 30%, another team-high, from beyond the arc.

Amver Navarro (Calgary, AB) is another guard that Coursey hopes will take her game another step forward this campaign. Of the returnees, Navarro dished out more assists (1.4 per game) and collected more steals (57) than any other Pilot and the sophomore’s growing game will only strengthen Coursey’s hopes of winning a first MCAC championship banner since 2005 and first NIAC championship banner since 2019 for the Providence program.

In the paint, third year forward Anna Cushon (Oxbow, SK) is both a veteran presence and a team leader. At 5’10, Cushon will be asked to defend some of the conference’s best post players and to continue to put up offensive and defensive numbers like she did a season ago. The Saskatchewan-product averaged a team-high 5.6 rebounds and topped all Pilots with 6 blocked shots in 2022-23 while still chipping in 4.2 points per game, in a system of basketball that focuses its offensive on strong outside scoring.

Of the 9 new faces, Coursey points to Grace Kitenge (Montreal, PQ) and Adrian Alley (Wasilla, AK) as two who he expects will drive the Pilots forward as a program. A transfer from the Medicine Hat Rattlers, Kitenge started 8 games as an ACAC rookie, averaging 3.9 points and collecting 3.8 rebounds over 15 games and will look to develop her game even further as she embarks on her first year of play in Manitoba.

A 5’6 wing from Colony High School in Alaska, Alley is a catch-and-shoot scorer who should fit perfectly into Coursey’s system and will help power the Pilots to success. Alley helped her team to a 20-8 record in her senior year in Alaska’s tough 4A division.

After starting their competitive season on Saturday and Sunday against the Briercrest Clippers, the Pilots will play a series of exhibition games against the CMU Blazers and Mayville State Comets before tipping-off against NCCAA opponents, November 10th in Minneapolis against the Faith Eagles. Providence will make their season debut at home in Niverville on November 17th when they play host to the defending MCAC women’s basketball champions, the CMU Blazers, in a rematch of the 2023 conference final at the CRRC.

Author - Athletics