Thirteen players put the finishing touch on a moment 13 years in the making.

The Providence University College Pilots commemorated coach Joel Coursey's triumphant moment by emptying their water bottles on his head the second he entered the locker room after their 72-69 win over the Canadian Mennonite University Blazers.

"Showered him with water, it was great. I think the girls are in there still mopping water so it's great," said veteran guard Kishi Rioferio, chuckling a few minutes later. "It's the best feeling. That's what we do it for. That's why we won."

"This one has eluded me, so it means a lot," Coursey added, unbothered by the water dripping off of his sport coat.

"I got asked last weekend when we were at NIAC (playoffs), which one would I care more about and you know, there's just something about a small conference rivalry and not winning it for so many years when Red River was hot and CMU got hot so it means a lot."
Coursey spent half his time at PUC watching the Red River Rebels win every year, then saw the Blazers hoist the trophy five straight Februarys.

Instead of trying the same old system, he flipped convention on its head last year and employed a completely different game plan. Coursey rolled out as many of his 15 players as were healthy, subbing about every minute all game, every game.

If games were shorter, it might not be the best system but by the end of Saturday's final, it was the difference as the Pilots ran rampant on a tired Blazers lineup.

"The secret's out. Part of it is just running them ragged but ultimately I'm doing this because It's a lot of fun," Coursey said.

"I'm doing it because it's hard to recruit and it's hard to retain and these kids get to play and why wouldn't you want to sign with a team that you get to play? It's working for us."

The Blazers leaned heavily on their stars as player of the year Briana Ehrmantraut put up 23 points while Anna Pyne had 15.

CMU led 24-18 after the first quarter but trailed 42-41 at halftime. They led by two early in the third before Rioferio led the Pilots on a charge, hitting two three-pointers in a row to take a 59-53 edge into the fourth.
"I kind of blacked out but it was good," said Rioferio, the playoff MVP.

"With the fast pace going back and forth I have that rhythm and definitely the bench helped a lot, hyping me up."

Providence turned the game around with full-court pressure and hit seven threes, usually in timely moments to stop a CMU run.

"That's just the way that we play. We live by it, we die by it but ultimately we believe in it and I truly believe that positivity helps you shoot better," Coursey said.

"Belief helps you shoot better and we just keep believing."

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