Friday, 04 January 2019 13:49

Vancouver 2023

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Highlander Year That Was:

 

Coming off a season that saw the team grab a franchise record 58 victories only to be swept out of the playoffs, prospects for the 2023 season were mixed.  

 

The offseason saw the Highlanders bring back late season acquisition Richard Sturgon and add to their front court depth with.  Their big ticket free agent acquisition was the controversial, much derided addition of Jarrold Dean. The former Tampa Bay and Las Vegas swingman had a reputation for being a foul prone me-first player and the consensus was skeptical on how he would fit in with the defensive minded Highlanders.  With the improvement of the Denver Demons, Honolulu Inferno and the presence of the always stalwart Arizona Thunderbirds, Vancouver was a clear 4th choice in the NatWest by the pundits as the season unfolded.

 

Highlights of the regular season included sweeping the defending champions Anaheim Archers and having Dennis Pichardo and Michael Keyes being named as starters in the OWBL All Star game.  The Highlanders finished the regular season with a 48-32 mark, 3 games back of division champs Denver and earning the #4 seed in the playoffs.

 

The first round saw Vancouver pitted against division rival Arizona and in typical fashion the series was tight filled with close contests and saw the home team prevail in each game which left the Highlanders the victors with their game 7 home victory.   The next series brought in the Toronto Huskies led by all world big man Charles Flowers. The all Canada matchup was a flash back to 2021 when the then upstart Highlanders were heavy underdogs versus the same high-powered Huskies and dispatched them in 5 games.  The 2023 installment would also see the Huskies installed as heavy favorites coming off a league best 65-15 season and first round sweep of Manhattan. The action was intense but the result much the same as Highlanders dropped the series opener in a thrilling 85-83 nail biter then proceed to win 4 of the next 5 en route to a 6 game series win.  Next up: the Conference finals and waiting there would be new nemesis the Denver Demons. Denver had swept the Highlanders in the 2022 playoffs bringing an abrupt end to that season. Denver once again had the brooms ready and Greg Fore and company were just too much for Vancouver and thus 2023 ended just like 2022, losing 4

straight to the Demons.

 

The offseason got off to a positive start with Michael Keyes opting to come back for season number 12.  After losing most of their frontcourt and key role player Albert Paschall to free agency, the team will have many holes to fill and limited cap resources in which to get it done.  However, Vancouver is armed with a lottery pick from Boston as well as their own first rounder and will use those assets to hopeful uncover a contributor.

 

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