Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Yeboah back on familiar ground

Former Spartan leads Vikes against Wesmen

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Winnipegger Debbie Yeboah can recall some of her most memorable basketball experiences taking place at the Duckworth Centre.

The 20-year-old point guard plans to take a shot at a couple more this weekend when she and the No. 8-ranked University of Victoria Vikes women's basketball team (11-3) visit to take on the Winnipeg Wesmen (10-2) in a pair of Canada West conference games.

"It's going to be so great to play at home, and it feels like home except I'm a visitor on the scoreboard," said Yeboah, who is eighth in Canada West scoring with an average of 13 points per game. The Wesmen will counter with point guard Caitlin Gooch, who is third in conference scoring with an average of 15.8 points per game.

Yeboah said she knows there will be a strong group of friends, family and church supporters led by her 16-year-old sister Becky, a member of the Garden City Fighting Gophers varsity girls' basketball team, and 10-year-old brother J.B. Yeboah's older brother Kevin, 27, is a former member of the Wesmen men's basketball team who is now working in Toronto as an actor.

"It's cool to have my family come out, it's a lot of fun," said Yeboah, who will play in Winnipeg for just the second time in her three-year Canadian Interuniversity Sport career. "It's going to feel like provincials all over again."

Yeboah said she'll be flooded with memories as soon as she walks into the Duckworth Centre. She and her former high school team came close to winning a provincial title on that floor.

In March 2008, Yeboah led the Sisler Spartans to the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association's Final Four. Played in the Duckworth Centre, Yeboah scored 32 points in Sisler's semifinal win over the Lord Selkirk Royals and she scored 38 points in a 91-80 loss in the championship game to Crocus Plains.

"I just wish we could have come away with the title, but it was a really good game," said Yeboah, who was named to the tournament's all-star team and was the recipient of the prestigious AAAA Players' Choice Award, voted on by the other players in the tournament.

Sisler is still looking for a championship title in girls' basketball.

Yeboah said the Vikes' offence starts two point guards -- herself and rookie Cassandra Goodis -- a system in which Yeboah also plays on the wing.

"I'm surrounded by a really good group of girls who are all very skilled and so nice," said Yeboah, who didn't start in her freshman year. "That's been a factor in how we've been doing this year, we all help to make each other better. Our coach always says you earn your minutes so I came in here knowing that I would have to earn anything I got."

Yeboah said it was a difficult choice to go away for school but she has relished the chance to experience life in a different part of Canada and to live in Victoria's mild climate.

"I just went with my gut when I decided (on U of Victoria). I came out for a recruiting trip and I really liked it," said Yeboah, who is majoring in philosophy with a plan to go on to law school. "I have so much respect for the coaches at both Winnipeg and Manitoba. They both coached me when I was younger, but I just thought if I had the opportunity to try something different, I should take it."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 14, 2011 C4

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