Team to beat in 3A high school hoops is 20-4 overall
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 06:00 am
Saturday’s final at the prestigious Harry Ainlay Tri-Prov basketball tournament was a statement game for the St. Albert Skyhawks.
The reigning 3A provincial champions won the women’s championship by knocking off the No. 3 ranked 4A team in Manitoba, the Oak Park Raiders of Winnipeg, 71-62.
“What we did against Oak Park was a pretty big deal,” said co-captain Kendall Lydon. “We’re a team that people shouldn’t want to play us and we want to prove that every game.”
The Skyhawks are the first St. Albert team to win Tri-Prov honours since the women’s division was added to the tournament format in 1982.
“It was big for us to win it,” Lydon said. “This is the first year we got invited so we wanted to prove that we should’ve been invited before and we should get invited back again.”
The No. 1 ranked 3A team in Alberta racked up a big lead at halftime and maintained its advantage while the Raiders tried to claw back into contention.
“Oak Park was perfect for us. They had size and were a really good team all around so it was a great challenge for us. Lately we’ve really started to reach our peak so it was really good for us to play that type of competition,” Lydon said. “They came out with a lot of energy in the second half and started catching up but we never got down even though it was close towards the end. It was just a fun game to play.”
Lydon, 18, was named the tournament MVP after lighting up the Raiders with five three-pointers and a game-high 26 points. The Grade 12 guard was also 8-for-8 at the free throw line down the stretch.
Paige Knull tossed in 11 points while Kayla Ivicak and tournament all-star Amber Easthope each added eight.
“It was just a good game all around by everybody. We played as a team really well,” Lydon said.
In the tournament opener the Skyhawks throttled the No. 3 ranked 3A Edmonton Christian Lions 79-41 as Ivicak led the attack with 16 points.
In the semifinal the Skyhawks whipped the St. Mary’s Marauders of Prince Albert 78-23. Lydon had 18 points, Haley England dropped in 14 and Katie Burak had 12.
“We knew going into the final it was going to be a tough game, but we felt pretty good from the games we played before that,” Lydon said.
Monday in league play the Skyhawks humbled the Ardrossan Bisons 116-33 at the SkyDome. At halftime it was 61-14. With 3:36 left in the blowout, Burak converted Lydon’s pass on a baseline play to make it 100-33.
Lydon, Easthope and England posted 20 points apiece against the 3A Bisons (3-4). Knull chipped in with 13, Hayley Warmington netted 10 and Burak and Ivicak had eight each.
“It’s kind of hard to keep your focus in a game like this but it wasn’t bad. We just needed to work on our execution and things that we need to do for hard teams like Oak Park,” Lydon said.
The Skyhawks are a perfect 7-0 in the metro Edmonton premier conference with two games remaining before the playoffs start Feb. 27. The goal is to equal their historic 2010 undefeated campaign as the first St. Albert varsity women’s team to win premier honours in metro basketball, followed by a three-peat performance at provincials.
“That’s what we’re aiming for and anything less we’re going to be disappointed,” Lydon said. “We want to win everything just because everybody on this team is so competitive and wants to win so bad.”
The Skyhawks are 20-4 overall going into the Spruce Grove Panthers tournament this weekend.
“We’re playing amazing basketball right now,” Lydon said.
A victory Friday against the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs of Calgary, ranked 10th in 4A, would trigger a rematch of the 2011 provincial final between the Skyhawks and the No. 2 ranked 3A McCoy Colts of Medicate Hat in the tournament semifinal.
The Skyhawks and Colts are also entered in the Wetaskiwin tournament next weekend and the draw is set up for both teams to meet in the final.
Last year at provincials the Skyhawks beat the Colts 74-63.
“We’re playing at our peak so it’s a fun time right now no matter who we play,” said Lydon, a recent signee by the Alberta Pandas.