The season has come to a successful close, and the Colorado Chill now enter the true challenge in round one of the NWBL playoffs.
The Chill plays in the one-game playoff contest today at 7 p.m. in the Budweiser Event Center against the Chicago Blaze and look to capitalize on its first-place finish in the regular season.
Colorado (16-8) finished the regular season by dropping two games on the road, one in Chicago against the Blaze team it faces tonight. Despite the loss, the team won the regular season title and dominated the season series against Chicago 6-2.
Colorado looks to its stars to lead the team to victory. Guards Becky Hammon and Katie Cronin, forward Carrie Bacon and center Ruth Reilly will all need to have big games for the Chill to win against Chicago.
Hammon finished as the NWBL's league-leading scorer at 23.2 points per game and led the league in assists at 6.2 per game. Reilly won the rebounding title with a 9.3 per-game average and also led the league in free-throw and field-goal percentage. Their dominating performance rarely overshadowed the hard work of other teammates such as Cronin and Bacon, and every member will need to play strong to win this opening playoff game.
The Blaze (13-11) is a team boasting its own great leaders. Forwards Tamika Catchings (17.3 points per game, 8.8 rebounds per game), Ebony Hoffman (13.3 points per game) and guard Keisha Anderson look to lead their team in the role of the spoiler tonight.
It won't be easy for Chicago. The Chill has still never lost on its home court in the team's two-year history.
Last year, the Chill went to Dallas and lost 78-74 in the league's championship game. Now, with a win tonight, the team may get its chance to see the Anna Deforge-led Dallas team one more time and try to turn the tables on the league's reigning champions.
The teams tied at the end of the regular season for the league's best record, but Colorado won the tiebreaker by taking the regular season head-to-head matchups. Dallas, which is playing Lubbock tonight, has won three-straight NWBL Championships. The winner of the Colorado-Chicago game will play the winner of the Dallas-Lubbock game on Friday.