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Sisler grads hog the CIS spotlight over weekend

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There were Spartans everywhere last weekend, as the University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball team came to town for a pair of CIS games against the local universities.

Three former Sisler standouts played prominent roles as Victoria scored wins over the University of Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday night and the University of Manitoba Bisons on Saturday.

Debbie Yeboah, the point guard who led the Spartans to the provincial final at the Duckworth Centre in 2008, almost recorded a triple-double on that same court on Friday. She finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a 79-63 win over freshman point guard, and fellow Spartan, Kerri Kuzbyt, who notched five points and four rebounds in 22 minutes.

The duo, each of whom was named the province’s top high school star in their Grade 12 seasons, came together with a thud on Friday night when Yeboah’s elbow connected with Kuzbyt’s face on a drive to the lane.

"They called it a charge, but I don’t think it was," Kuzbyt said with a laugh, her lower lip showing the aftermath of the collision. "But I’ll take it."

Yeboah posted 19 points on Saturday in the Vikes’ 79-62 win over the Bisons, while shooting guard Robyn Eyer, a third-year Sisler grad, responded with 14 for Manitoba.

All three players thought it said a lot about coach Michael Tan and his Sisler program to have such a strong presence in the university game.

"It’s great," said Yeboah, a Garden City product who will graduate in the spring with a philosophy degree. "I’ve always been proud of the school, but it makes me that much more proud to see that even after I left it’s bringing out players who are doing big things."

Eyer, who lives in Tyndall Park, and Kuzbyt, a Maples resident, both said they were influenced by Yeboah’s success at the school.

"I looked up to her so much in high school," Eyer said. "It’s pretty cool to play against her in university since we never got the chance to play together."

Added Kuzbyt: "When she was bringing up the ball one time and I was on her, it was very cool. I had a little moment."

Ask the players why the program managed to produce three CIS-calibre players in five years, and they all point to Tan’s coaching.

"He really expected a lot of us as individual players," said Eyer, who’s averaging 11.1 points per game for the Bisons this season. "The standard of basketball is really high when you play for him."

Kuzbyt said her transition from high school to college this year hasn’t been difficult — thanks in large part to Tan’s coaching style.

"The way he pushes you is unbelievable," she said. "It helps you get there. He’s a bit harder on you, like a university coach."

Trying to pinpoint how Tan brought out the best in her game, Yeboah said he was different from a lot of coaches who work with girls.

"It’s different from boys in the sense that boys always want to show off," Yeboah said. "They want the ball. They want to shoot. With girls it’s harder to get them to be selfish. I think (Sisler coaches) did a very good job of recognizing talent and helping it grow."

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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