It was a big weekend for local teams at the provincial basketball championships, Hoopla, held in Prince Albert this past weekend.
In 3A girls play, it came down to two Highway 16 rivals squaring off in the finals. The Wynyard Bears and the Lanigan Lazers went head to head in the final. It was a tight game that saw Lanigan lead for much of it, but the Wynyard squad would not be denied as the final buzzer went.
“We knew we had our work cut out for us,” said Trevor Otsig, coach of the Wynyard Bears girls team, “We first went up against the St. Walburg team, which was a veteran team. We’d beaten them earlier in the year, but we knew they would be ready for us.”
The St. Walburg team came out strong and put the Wynyard girls into a 17 point hole in the first quarter. Wynyard redoubled its efforts to come on strong in the second half, securing the victory.
Meanwhile, Lanigan surfaced as their final rivals after putting away Unity. Otsig said the Wynyard girls had a bit of a score to try to settle.
“Lanigan had beaten us at our conferences two weeks prior,” Otsig said. “They’re a very athletic team, and they’ve got a great group of girls that work hard.”
Again, after some foul trouble for both sides, Wynyard found itself on the minus side of a 13 goal deficit at the half. After some adjustments and a mental recalibration, the two sides went back at it.
“We erased that 13 point deficit and it was tied going home in the fourth. It was a barn burner right down to the end. Our offense made some clutch shots when needed and our offense bailed us out.”
The result was a 61-55 victory for the Wynyard Bears and the gold for 2023.
It was a similar story for the co-op team from Middle Lake and Lake Lenore, with the Lancers having to erase early deficits and rally during their final. Known as Middle Lake Lenore, the squad dispatched Kenaston handily in their Hoopla opener, 54-24.
In their final, the Lancers went up against Gladmar. Coach Curtis Strueby admits it was a slow start for the Lancers, but they managed to pull away toward the end.
“We were confident going in,” said Strueby. “All year long, we relied on our shooting from the outside, but I’m not going to lie, we went a bit cold during that game. That happens from time to time. We made a couple of changes in the fourth quarter and the girls began to execute the way we wanted them to do.”
The Lancers turned it around to secure the lead near the end of the game, and the seniors came through with 5 out of 6 shots from the line going in.
Both coaches are proud of their teams efforts, as were all the coaches whose teams advanced to Hoopla. Otsig had the invaluable support of veteran coach Rick Rink, and Strueby credits a calming influence to his co-coach, Kim Moorman. They also praise the support of parents and fans throughout the season. Strueby says that the nature of a co-op team presents challenges with travel and scheduling, but all involved from both schools came through to make the season, and the Hoopla experience such a success.
A big shout out goes to the Lake Lenore / Annaheim boys co-op team for their silver finish during the tournament, and to St. Brieux boys who acquitted themselves well through the season.