The W.H. Croxford Cavaliers senior girls' basketball team is taking no prisoners this season – just ask the many teams they've already beaten on the hard court in their 2022-23 campaign.
The Cavaliers are currently sporting a 14-1 overall record in the 2022-23 high-school basketball season, are unbeaten in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA), and have won two of the three tournaments they've competed in (earning a silver in the other one, their loss in the final the sole blemish on their record).
“We’re doing well,” understated the team's head coach, Diane Hilko. “We’ve had some close games though, and some good challenges. We’ve risen to the occasion and are pretty happy so far with what we’ve done.”
The Cavaliers are coming off yet another triumph last week, having beaten the George McDougall Mustangs 65-45 on Jan. 10. The west-Airdrie battle marked the third game of the regular season for both teams.
As a result of their victory, Croxford maintains their perfect record against RVSA opposition. They are currently in first place, having outscored opponents 193-80 in their three games.
Away from their regular-season division, the Cavs won the Bert Church Invitational tournament in Airdrie last month, and won a tournament hosted at Notre Dame High School in Red Deer earlier this season. They also came in second at a tournament at Lethbridge's Catholic Central High School.
“The girls are very excited and enthusiastic,” Hilko said. “They’ve bought in and work hard. As we work with them to try and get them to become better athletes and basketball players, they’re just excited about it. It’s fun to watch them grow.”
The Cavaliers are the RVSA's two-time defending champions for the senior girls' division, having won the league banner in 2020 and 2022. The high-school basketball season was cancelled in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making matters even more impressive is that this year's Cavaliers roster is predominantly in Grade 11. According to Hilko, the team only has two seniors in the line-up this year, as well as a Grade 10 player. Within that group are just three returning players from last year's banner-winning team.
Many of the Cavaliers also play basketball competitively away from school. Hilko brought up senior guard Tana Layton, who was a member of Team Alberta's gold-medal-winning squad at last summer's Canada Summer Games, and Jemaya Chinyelugo, who was on the Alberta U15 girls' provincial team last summer.
“What they bring is a level of fitness the other girls are trying to catch up to,” Hilko said, adding she actually coached against Layton in the Summer Games final last year, as a member of Team Saskatchewan's coaching staff.
Due to diploma exams taking place in the next two weeks, January is a relatively quiet month for high-school basketball. Croxford's cross-city clash with the Mustangs last week was the team's only regular-season game of the month. But once the exam break is over, Hilko said it will be pedal-to-the-medal for the Cavaliers throughout February (and into March, if they make it to the 4A provincial championships).
The Cavaliers will return to the court on Feb 7, when they travel to Cochrane to face the RVSA' second-place team, the Bow Valley Bobcats. They'll also have a make-up game against the Cochrane Cobras that week, as their regular-season match-up was postponed in December due to inclement weather.
Throw in a few tournaments, and the rest of the schedule is looking pretty packed already.
“We’ve got two tournaments left, four league games, and hopefully a couple exhibition games,” Hilko said.
For RVSA scores and schedules, visit rvsa.rockyview.ab.ca