PRINCE ALBERT - It was double silver and a fourth-place finish for the local high school teams at Hoopla on the weekend.
The senior boys from St. Mary fell 63-44 to Lumsden Devils in the 4A final, playing without Grade 12 guard Kyle Fiddler who rolled his ankle in the semifinal.
“They were prepared for us and we didn’t start the game sharp,” said Marauders coach Dale Regel. “We had difficulties shooting. We couldn’t handle an outside shot and they had a big boy that was blocking our shots.”
Regel was referring to Matt Forbes, who at six-foot-six was the tallest opposing player the Marauders faced this season, and had about 20 blocks in the final, and was an intimidating presence for the Marauders’ shooters.
“It was difficult getting by him,” said the coach reached Sunday after a long bus ride home from Moose Jaw.
Evan Halyk, a Grade 11 forward, led St. Mary with 17 points in the final, while Lumsden’s high scorer was senior point guard Colby Boyes with 30 points.
Boyes credited Forbes’ intimidating presence with securing the win for the Devils.
“He changes the game,” said Boyes. “The way he plays defence and alters shots, there’s nothing you can really do against him.”
Despite the loss, Regel said, it was a special season that the six senior players – Chris Leberio, Michael Archibald, Andrew Hemsworth, Evan Kopchynski, Matt Cantin and Fiddler – will be able to carry with them into their future endeavors.
“It’s arguably one of the best teams we ever had,” said Regel, pointing to the club’s 40-4 overall record and capturing gold in 12 of 14 tournaments. “We had a successful season and nobody can take that away. It was a season to remember.”
With the experiences the younger players have had, Regel said, he believes the Marauders will use the sour ending to the team’s season to build on next year.
“It gives them something to work towards,” said Regel. “They’ve experienced Hoopla and they know what it’s all about. I think that we’ve got a really strong nucleus coming back next year and, I think, we’re going to have a good team again.”
Both of the girls’ squads, the Kinistino 2A and Carlton Crusaders in 4A had similar fates in Moose Jaw.
Kinistino pushed past Southey in the semifinal 89-68 on Friday led by Bailey Johnson’s 39 points, but came up short in the final against Regina Christian, falling 60-51 and settling for silver.
“Our girls battled hard and we’re proud of them,” said Kinistino coach Bill Yeaman. “They’ve got a lot of heart and they don’t quit, and we’ve seen that all year.”
Regina led the whole game, but the Kinistino girls managed to keep the game within reach, but just couldn’t overcome their rival. Johnson put up 24 points for Kinistino, while Jennifer Porter contributed nine.
“It was very scary,” said Milan Aveyard, a Grade 11 forward from Regina Christian. “I thought we weren’t going to win. It was getting close and then we pulled it out in the end. It was nerve-wracking.”
Aneyard was impressed with Kinistino’s Johnson.
“Number 21, she’s really good,” said the five-foot-eight Regina player. “I knew she was going to give us a run for our money.”
Meanwhile, the Carlton senior girls were unable to defend their title, falling to the host school, Moose Jaw Peacock, 67-52, in the semifinal, before dropping the bronze-medal clash with regional rival, North Battleford Composite Vikings, 71-65.
The Vikings never trailed, taking a three-point advantage into halftime, which grew to 10 points after three quarters. Racquel Marshall led the Crusaders with 22 points, while Kaila Gavel and Dalyce Emmerson each put up 13.
“This year we found that all four teams that were in Hoopla could’ve taken home the gold medal,” said Marshall. “If we played the tournament next weekend it could have been different; it’s just how the cards fell this weekend.”
During the season, the Crusaders had beaten Moose Jaw Peacock twice, while taking two of three games off Humboldt – the gold medalists – but couldn’t solve the Vikings in any of the three games they faced them.
“They just got a head start on us,” said Marshall about the bronze-medal game. “We’ve always been a slow starting kind of team, I don’t know why.”
The Crusaders managed to close the gap to two points with 80 seconds to play, making for an intense conclusion, but the Vikings scored an uncontested layup to seal the win.
“We just couldn’t come back,” said Marshall. “After the game we were upset, not because we lost, but because it was over. We had a really close team and it was just sad for it to all be done.”
The 17-year-old post added it was even sadder that Chenele Fisher “who never fouls out” was on the sidelines at the end Saturday after collecting her fifth foul, while Emmerson played through the pain of her injured ankle all weekend.
“This has been one of my favourite seasons for basketball, we’ve all become so close,” said Marshall.
With files from Moose Jaw Times-Herald