|Auroras hoping there's no place like home at provincials|
|Local Content - Local Sports|
|Written by Greg Price|
|Thursday, 14 March 2013 17:24|
Starting today the St. Mary’s Auroras girls basketball team will be going on its 1A ASAA provincials journey in the comfy confines of its home gym.
There are 154 1A schools in the province in Alberta with only 12 getting the chance to compete in 1A girls provincials which St. Mary’s knows is a huge honour to host which it is dubbing 2013 St. Mary’s Shoot Out, a moniker thought up by former teacher Ken Gabruck.
“I’m excited to host. I think it’s a real cool opportunity to bring all the different schools to Taber. A lot of work goes into it, but it will be a good result for the kids coming through the program and our community as well in putting us on the map a little,” said A.J. Bergen Henengouwen, athletic director at St. Mary’s School.
The Goliath in which the Auroras and the rest of the field will try and slay as David is number-one ranked Stirling who has beaten provincially-ranked 4A schools this basketball season.
The rest of the field includes in descending rank, Foremost, Clear Water Academy, St. Jerome’s, Acme, host St. Mary’s, Marwayne, Grand Trunk, Parkland Immanuel Christian, Bawlf, Hay Lakes and Worsley Central.
“The draw is actually a great draw in our favour. If we come to play we can definitely get into one of the medal rounds,” said Kathy Knibb, a coach with the St. Mary’s Auroras girls basketball team.
The Auroras start its quest on Thursday against 11th-ranked Hay Lakes in which a win would put the team against third-ranked Clearwater, a team the Auroras have beat earlier in the season in the Auroras home tournament.
“With Hays Lake we’ve played against a couple of common opponents in which we’ve had a little bit better success than them. But, it’s really hard to judge the teams form up north because they play a different style of ball than the south teams,” said Terence Hochstein, head coach of the St. Mary’s Auroras girls basketball team.
That would possibly put the Auroras if they continue its winning ways with a championship semifinal against second-ranked Foremost which the Auroras fell by five points in their last game against each other.
Whatever the opponent the Auroras face in any bracket, attention to defence will be key for the Auroras on a long provincial tournament run.
“If we play strong defence, the offence seems to fall in place from that,” said Knibb.
Beyond the box scores will be the special moments for Knibb who will see graduating seniors Chalsea Kerner, Carly Perry and Heather Knibb end their high school basketball careers, having coached them since they were in Grade 5.
“Those are the little side stories to me that are important. The last seven years she has been working with these three girls. That’s a lot of dedication on both parts,” said Hochstein. “Those are the little things that make the nice parts about provincials.
The passion will be there not only by the players on the court and the numerous volunteers putting in hours and hours, there was also all the fundraising the girls on the team did themselves. Thirty sponsors came to the forefront to help fund provincials as the Auroras girls were able to raise $10,000 themselves.
“It shows they were pretty geared up in that they wanted to host,” said Knibb.
Games start on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s with Acme battling Worsley Central. Games continue until 3:45 p.m. Play continues on Friday stating at 8:30 a.m. with the last game slated for 8:45 p.m. Saturday play starts on 8:30 a.m. up until the championship game at 7:30p.m. The bronze-medal game goes at 5:30 p.m.
Auroras start on Thursday at 2 p.m. A win puts them in a noon contest on Friday with another win giving them the 8:45 p.m. slot on the same day.
Opening ceremonies are at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday at the school with the provincial banquet at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Heritage Inn with former U of L Pronghorns coach and St. Patrick’s principal Dave Adams as guest speaker.
“The kids have worked hard all year for this. They just have to come to play. You have the best 12 teams in the province right here,” said Hochstein.