By:  Liam Berti

Second-year guard Jesa Rada, left, comforts teammate Abeer Farhat after the Thunder were eliminated from contention for the national championship by the Olds Broncos

The Algonguin Thunder women’s basketball team’s perfect season came to an end on Thursday afternoon after losing 77-54 at the hands of the fifth-seeded Olds Broncos in the opening game of the national championships in Truro, N.S.

With the loss, the Thunder’s quest for gold comes to an early end after coming into the weekend ranked fourth in the tournament. With the championship stripped out of their hands, a third-place bronze medal finish is the most that the team can earn.

One day after being crowned Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association player of the year, Bronco guard Jylisa Williams lived up to the hype surrounding her as she led both teams with 24 points. Second-year Bronco forward and co-captain Melanie Hogue hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds en route to the win.

“The win feels great, but our mind-set is on to tomorrow’s game and the championship,” said Williams. “We celebrated, but now it’s time to focus on what we have to do to make it to the championship.”

The Broncos, who started the season with a 2-5 record, have since gone on to dominate the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference and power their way on to the national stage.

“We feel like we’ve been the underdogs since day one,” said Williams. “Nobody feels like we should be here and nobody knows who we are, so it’s kinda like ‘let’s go out there and show them.’”

Thunder guard Abeer Farhat is marked by CCAA player of the year Jylisa Williams. Williams scored the first seven points of the game and the Broncos never looked back from there

The Thunder got off to a slow start on Thursday afternoon, falling victim to a 7-0 run by the Broncos–or more particularly, Williams. The third-year guard from Atlanta, GA, dominated from the tip-off, draining 7-of-12 from the field and earning game MVP honours.

“We never really recovered from the first five minutes of the game,” said Thunder head coach John MacInnis. “The message now is we want to leave this tournament with a medal and we still have that ability. We’re not going to leave the tournament without something.”

While the Broncos advance to the next round of the championship, the Thunder will shift their attention to their Friday afternoon matchup against the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics. Game-time is 1 p.m. at the University of Dalhousie Agricultural Campus.