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Basketball season underway for Airdrie high schools

The 2019-20 senior girls’ high-school basketball season kicked off in early December, with four Airdrie teams seeing action in their respective leagues.

In the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA), the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers opened the campaign Dec. 4 by besting last year’s divisional champ – the Cochrane Cobras – 47-32. Assistant coach Taylor Grant said the win came down to the Cavaliers’ concentration and determination.

“Having that real focus and drive to just try and win…was a good motivating factor,” he said.

The victory continued a strong start for Croxford, which also won all three of its preseason games against Central Memorial, Forest Lawn and St. Timothy at a tournament in Calgary Nov. 28 to Dec. 3.

“The team camaraderie and atmosphere is really good,” Grant said. “Because Croxford is so new, the culture of the school is still growing. But I think this team, specifically, is doing a very good job – they’re really gelling and supporting one another.”

The Cavaliers followed up the win over Cochrane by competing at the annual Silver Belles high school girls’ basketball tournament, Dec. 6 to 8 at SAIT, winning three games against Olds High School 62-41, Edwin Parr 55-17 and George McDougall 51-37. The victories meant the team was unbeaten in its first seven games.

The Cavs resumed its regular-season schedule Dec. 10 with a battle against the Bow Valley Bobcats. The Cochrane-based team finally ended Croxford's winning streak, beating the Cavaliers 60-25.

Croxford will travel east Dec. 17 to face the Chestermere Lady Lakers.

Bert Church loses

On the east side of Airdrie, the Bert Church Chargers hosted the always-strong Lady Lakers Dec. 3, losing 61-43.

Head coach Andrew Kirk said the season-opener was the first competitive game this year, as the team did not attend preseason tournaments.

“We haven’t had the luxury of playing and ironing out some of the kinks,” he said. “It was a little on the chaotic side…but we saw lots of potential in a lot of different areas, and in the third quarter, we did a good job shutting them down.”

Chestermere, which won five consecutive RVSA banners from 2014 to 2018, before conceding the divisional crown to Cochrane last season, controlled the early proceedings against Bert Church. The visitors scored seemingly at will to take a 25-16 lead into the halftime break.

Airdrie improved its shooting significantly in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Lakers to close the gap to just five points.

“We started off poor, but when we entered the second half, we brought it back up,” said player Alaysia Marion. “We played with intensity and did our offence properly.”

While it was still anybody’s game entering the final 10 minutes, Chestermere’s Hannah Nerhi put the contest to bed with a series of three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Her pinpoint shooting garnered the Lady Lakers 10 points in the fourth frame, extending the visitors’ lead to 18 by the final buzzer.

“The fourth quarter came and we got a little too confident, a little flustered and it went downhill from there,” Marion said.

Grade-12 guard Jocelyn Pierce – one of just two seniors on the team this season, along with Danielle Hernandez – was one of Bert Church’s star performers, putting up a game-high 18 points.

“Her work ethic is unbelievable,” Kirk said of Pierce, who was Bert Church’s senior female athlete of the year in 2018-19. “She’s so quick, and is really hard to guard. Once we get that in concert with our [centers] – because we have some size inside, as well – it’s going to pretty hard to match up with us.”

The team was back in action Dec. 6 to 8 at the Silver Belle Tournament at SAIT, losing two games and winning one, before resuming its RVSA schedule Dec. 11 (after press time) with a crosstown battle against the George McDougall Mustangs. The Mustangs began the regular season with a 66-41 loss Dec. 3 to the Bow Valley Bobcats.

Next up for the Chargers is the annual Bert Church Invitational Dec. 12 to 14.

Also kicking off its campaign in early December was the St. Martin de Porres Kodiaks. St. Martin de Porres, which plays in the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association, began its regular season Dec. 9 with a 59-53 win over Forest Lawn, before falling 49-40 to Lord Beaverbrook the following night.

"They were definitely the biggest team we've faced so far, so we struggled with scoring," said the team's head coach, Victoria Guderyan. "But I'm really impressed with our team this year. They're an excellent group of girls and they always work very hard. They're great listeners."

The Kodiaks, which won two of three games at the Silver Belles tournament, will also compete at the Burt Church Invitational. 


Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, sports/RCMP reporter
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