'Still a powerhouse'

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- Sometimes it takes a lot to get Jennifer Jones to stop behaving like a lawyer, but earning a berth in the Canadian women's curling championship final did the trick nicely.

"I'm very excited ... it's been a dream of mine since I was a little kid," a beaming Jones said yesterday after her 8-7 win over British Columbia's Kelly Scott in the one vs. two Page playoff game last night at the Scott Tournament of Hearts.

"I can't believe it's here."

Jones, a 30-year-old Winnipeg commercial lawyer, will play for Manitoba's first Canadian title in 10 years, tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. (CBC).

Her team, which includes third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Cathy Gauthier, will face either B.C. or Ontario's Jenn Hanna in the final.

UP-AND-COMER

Scott, a native Winnipegger who now lives in Kelowna, B.C., will play Hanna, the star up-and-comer of the tournament, in today's semifinal (1 p.m., CBC). Hanna won two tie-breakers yesterday (against Alberta and New Brunswick) and beat Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton 10-4 in the three vs. four playoff game last night.

Whoever wins the semifinal will be up against a Manitoba foursome that was formed for this very purpose and has been a virtual machine since the championship began a week ago.

"Not even a doubt, this is absolutely it," Gauthier said when asked if this is where she envisioned her team when it got together a year ago. "One more win. It's a fabulous spot to be in. Bring it on, whoever it is."

Manitoba last won the Canadian final in 1995, with Connie Laliberte at the helm and Overton-Clapham and Gauthier on board.

But Overton-Clapham was with Laliberte when she lost semifinals in 1996, 1999 and 2000 and had no interest in playing another one today.

"That win was huge because semifinals are bad for me," she said.

WRECKED

The Buffalo gals were strong as usual in the one vs. two game, breaking it open with a three in the sixth end after Scott wrecked with her last draw attempt.

But B.C. closed the gap and had a chance for the tying deuce in the 10th, only to watch Scott's shooter roll out on a takeout attempt.

"I'm just really in awe," said Officer, who like Jones will play in her first national final tomorrow. "I'm almost speechless. I just can't believe that we are going to be in the Canadian final (tomorrow)."

Gauthier believes this team is playing for provincial pride as much as anything.

"Our reputation as a province has really gone down," she said. "So this is about winning for us, but it's also about saying to the rest of the country that Manitoba is still a very strong province, a powerhouse."

Hanna, a fan favourite who has displayed her bag of tricks since winning the Hot Shots competition last Saturday, had the kind of day people dream about.

"It's beyond my wildest dreams to even be here in the first place," she said. "It's just hit me that I'm at the Scott, we're no worse than third, and how incredible is that?"

Lawton, who started the week 5-0 and was in contention for first place until the last night, was devastated after her loss.

"Knowing that we could have gone further and knowing what was ahead, losing a game like this is definitely bad," she said between sobs. "But we will look back on it in a day or two or however long it takes and realize that we did very well, and a lot of people back home are very proud of us."


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