|Lady Trojans make history|
|Local Content - Local Sports|
|Written by Greg Price|
|Wednesday, 06 March 2013 20:34|
History was made Saturday night when the Barnwell Tier I girls team became the first small school (2J) to win the unlimited enrollment (4J) south zone banner in basketball, doing so in convincing fashion.
Prior to this year's Lady Trojans opting all the way up to 4J, only three other teams in southern Alberta had ever attempted the feat. Foremost boys 2002 finished runner-up and Barnwell boys teams in 2010 and 2011 finished as semifinalists and the runner up respectively.
After an impressive regular season, in which the Trojans’ only defeat came at the hands of Campbell Collegiate's (5A High School in Regina) junior varsity high school team, the 24-1 Trojans set its sites on winning 4J zones. Coach Inga Edlund knew she had a special team from day one.
"These girls have been very well coached from an early age. We were able to hit the ground running from Game One of the season," said Lady Trojans head coach Inga Edlund.
Edlund also contributed the girls’ success to growing up with a basketball in their hands. Most of the team has older brothers or sisters who play or played for W.R. Myers.
"They are no strangers to being in a gym, and it showed this season,” said Edlund.
Entering zones as the number-one seed, the Trojans liked its position, but also knew it meant they had a bulls-eye on their backs.
"We really tried hard to stay focused on each game and not let the atmosphere of being at 4J zones distract us," said Edlund.
The Trojans took the momentum they had built during its 23-game winning streak, some of those games coming against high school competition, and steamrolled the host school Crescent Heights 69-14 in the opening game. Hayley LePard terrorized CHHS guards with her defence.
"Hayley gets the whole thing started for us," said Edlund.
"Her athleticism and anticipation are incredible. I am excited to watch her play high school basketball and I know she is already gaining attention from post-secondary schools. She has a long career ahead of her."
LePard's substitute, Tiffani Olsen also had a big game against the Chinooks. Tiffani is a dream to coach. Despite her small size, she is 100 per cent hustle 100 per cent of the time!"
The second game pitted the Trojans up against the best team from Medicine Hat. It mattered little in a 64-36 win.
"Notre Dame was one of the only teams we knew nothing about," said Edlund. "We were able to watch them for only a few minutes, but what we saw looked good. They were much bigger than us and had some good players."
Hot shooting from KaTessa Gross and Natalie Hoyt doomed the home-town Bulldogs.
"KaTessa Gross would easily be the best shooter in southern Alberta if it wasn't for teammate Natalie Hoyt," said Edlund. "We enjoyed the unique privilege of having two outside threats all season long and that is something you normally don't see at the junior-high level."
Everyone in the gym could see Gross' great shooting, but Edlund hopes everyone noticed her defence.
"Nobody is as good at keeping their girl in front of them as KaTessa is," said Edlund.
Much of Notre Dame's success on the season came from its full court, man-to-man press, but the Trojans had Grade 8 guard Millay Johnson to take care of that.
"Millay has done a fantastic job this season organizing and running the team on the offensive end. She is one of the most unselfish players I have ever seen. With Millay, we didn't need a 'press breaker'...she was our press breaker," said Edlund.
Barnwell matched up in the championship final against the only junior-high team to give them problems this season. Magrath came into the tournament as the number-two seed and an impressive record of their own with only three losses on the year. However, the Trojans were up to the challenge in a 44-14 dismantling of the opposition.
"I've never seen the 'nail in the coffin' be driven in so early in a game," said Edlund when Hoyt hit a three pointer one minute into the game to make the score 5-0. "Magrath got very frustrated on offence. Our defence was everywhere and was rotating quicker than Magrath could move the ball. Paige Wood has anchored our defence all year long and in the final she came up big over and over again."
When the Pandas were finally able to penetrate the defence it was Wood who would rotate over and take a charge or block a shot.
"Paige is the unsung hero of this team," said Edlund. "She is a great leader and motivated her teammates all year long."
Like the LePard—Olsen duo, Wood was flanked by Maren Jensen.
"Maren provided us with another weapon inside and backed up Paige nicely. I am thrilled that Maren gave us her best game of the season in the biggest game of the year," said Edlund.
The Trojan defence was definitely in championship form for the zone final as Magrath was only able to muster three points, all on free throws, over the first 20 minutes of play. Half way through the third quarter, Barnwell sat comfortably ahead 33-3 and thanks to a deep bench and contributions from Shaylee Kurtz, Rylee Bailey and Jenna Nelson, the Trojans rolled to a victory.