|Memories made at provincials|
|Local Content - Local Sports|
|Written by Greg Price|
|Wednesday, 20 March 2013 16:39|
St. Mary’s Auroras girls basketball team’s record may have been .500 hosting 1A Alberta Schools Athletic Association Girls Basketball Provincials, but it still felt like a perfect season with the memories the tournament gave which concluded on Saturday.
“It was an amazing experience for everyone involved. I think the kids enjoyed it. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and to be able to experience that at home in front of their home crowd and their family and friends was pretty special,” said Terence Hochstein, head coach of the St. Mary’s Auroras girls basketball team.
That special feeling could be seen right off the bat in the Aurora’s opening-round victory against the Hays Lakes Tigers on Thursday.
as the Auroras registered six baskets on their first six shots to set the tone with five made shots and two converted free throws.
“The girls came out ready to play, they were on fire. That kind of momentum is hard to maintain for the full 40 minutes. But anytime you come out and score 20-plus points in the first quarter, you are running at a pretty good clip,” said Hochstein. “They were going hard, where we kind of cooled off but we kept playing hard. I was very happy.”
Sixth-ranked Auroras were in tough against third-ranked Clear Water Academy Crusaders in its second game on Friday, but battled tough in a 38-37 loss that went down to the wire.
“We ran into some troubles. I wouldn’t say we weren’t focused, it was a slower-paced game and we didn’t adjust,” said Hochstein, adding Carly Perry and Shania Casson got into early foul trouble as starting forwards.
Hochstein noted Grade 12 guard Chalsea Kerner had a chance to tie things up near the end of the game or win with two free throws, but missed. Given the success Kerner has helped the Auroras girls basketball program have even since her rookie year as the team’s perennial leading scorer, Hochstein added that would have been his go-to-girl in that situation every time.
“If I had to pick a player again to put someone on the foul line with no time left again, I’d pick Chalsea again,” said Hochstein. “She took it hard and personal, but she shouldn’t. If I was a betting man I’d go with her every time. That’s just life, that’s just basketball. Those last two foul shots did not lose the basketball game. If we come out hot, we play well, if we come out hesitant, we struggle.”
Kerner netted 20 points in the game and Jennifer Wilson had 14.
It was do-or-die after that for the Auroras who slid into the consolation bracket against seventh-ranked Marwayne Wildcats on Saturday morning. Wildcats. With the starting line up for the Auroras topping out at five-foot-seven, St. Mary’s had a tall order against the Wildcats who had nine felines out o fits 13-player roster that were as tall or taller than that. Of those nine were five players that were five-foot-10 or taller including six-foot-two centre Chelsea Illingsworth.
The figurative David of the St. Mary’s Auroras slew the Goliath Wildcats with the aid of slingshot Heather Knibb, in that despite her diminutive five-foot-one frame, was able to neutralize Illingsworth somewhat with her heart and hustle in a 68-46 win.
“They completely outsized us, but we didn’t allow any second-shot rebounds. They got one chance at the rebound and that wa sit. Our girls boxed out incredibly well. For our Grade 12 kids, that was not going to be their last game on Saturday morning. That was probably the best team effort we had all year. Everybody played their role and played it hard,” said Hochstein. “Little Heather Knibb was in there battling with her (Illingsworth) countless times and usually won the battle. She outrebounded that girl numerous times. If there was a jump ball, Heather ended up with it, she was on top of the pile. That was just playing with heart.”
Kerner poured in 31 points in the win and Wilson added 13. Knibb chipped in 12 points.
Exhausted from the size battle, the Auroras ended its 2012-2013 season with a 43-31 loss to St. Jerome’s Spartans in the consolation final.
Wilson hit for 14 points and Perry had six points.
“We ran into a good team. St. Jerome’s has only lost five or six times all year. We ran into a good team and we ran out of gas,” said Hochstein. “Our kids were tired. We got beat by a better team and that’s OK.”
The Auroras finished provincials with a 2-2 record with both losses coming against higher-ranked teams in a season that had plenty of good memories for the program.
“Kathy (Knibb) and I were very proud of all the girls. They played hard right to the end,” said Hochstein. “And I big thanks to the parents and community. We couldn’t have done it without their support. They were incredible, anytime you get 80 volunteers to step up to the plate, that’s nice to see.”
The brackets proved correct as top-ranked Stirling Lakers best second-ranked Foremost Forettes to take the gold-medal game.