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Big win by Skyhawks

Katie Burak's game-winning basket sinks the top 4A provincial women's basketball team

By: Jeff Hansen

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012 06:00 am

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Katie Burak’s buzzer-beater lifted the St. Albert Skyhawks to victory Saturday against the Spruce Grove Panthers, No. 1 ranked 4A high school women’s basketball team in Alberta.

The running layup by the Grade 12 forward put the reigning 3A provincial champions on top 64-62 against the Panthers in Saturday’s third-place game at the Panthers tournament.

“It was pretty crazy at the end. The ball got passed to me and I just threw it up and it went in. I was pretty lucky actually,” Burak said. “To score like that was a pretty unreal feeling. You don’t really get put into situations like that very often so it’s nice when it happens.”

The Skyhawks padded their overall record to 23-5 after knocking off the 2011 Edmonton public league champions. Both teams are 8-0 in their respective leagues.

“It was definitely a tough game. It was number one in 3A against number one in 4A so it felt really good to beat a team like that. It reinforced the fact that we can compete with 4A schools,” Burak said. “We played really good defence and we never let them get anything easy. We just kept pushing hard the whole game. At the end most of our players were tired so it was just good that we could pull it out like that.”

The Skyhawks also prevailed without guard Kendall Lydon. The Grade 12 offensive dynamo and candidate for the MVP award in the metro Edmonton premier conference sat out the game with a concussion. She was injured towards the end of the second quarter in the 55-53 semifinal loss to the McCoy Colts of Medicine Hat.

“It was just nice to be able to compete with a team like that, especially without one of our best players,” Burak said.

Provincial preview

The Skyhawks rebounded sharply after their most disappointing performance of the season against the Colts, ranked second in 3A.

“They’re a good team but we could’ve definitely played better than that,” Burak said.

The Skyhawks gassed a 12-point halftime lead and then stayed even with the Colts through the fourth quarter. With under a minute to play the Skyhawks had four shots to tie or win but missed the mark.

“On the positive side we executed very well to get those shots, plus the kids stepped up in Kendall’s absence to give us a chance to win,” said head coach John Dedrick. “McCoy’s kids were super excited so their response should serve as more motivation for the girls.”

The first meeting of the season between the top teams in 3A was also a rematch of the 2011 provincial final, when the Skyhawks repeated as gold medallists with a 74-63 decision. Both teams lost only two players to graduation.

“It was an emotionally charged game because of provincials last year,” Burak said. “It’s a huge rivalry, so to lose to them by two angered our team a lot. We’re really fired up to go out and beat them the next time we play them.”

This weekend the Skyhawks and Colts are expected to clash in the final of the Wetaskiwin tournament with the teams on the opposite sides of the draw.

“They’re looking good. We’ll have to play a hard game to beat them but it’s definitely doable,” Burak said.

In the tournament opener the Skyhawks posted an 80-45 victory against the 10th ranked 4A Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs of Calgary.

Meanwhile, the Skyhawks’ last game in league play before the playoffs is tonight against the Bev Facey Falcons (4-4) at 6:15 p.m. in Sherwood Park.

The premier playoffs start Monday and the final is March 3 at 5 p.m. at O’Leary High School.

Two years ago the Skyhawks finished 14-0 as the first varsity women’s team from St. Albert to win premier honours in metro basketball. Co-captains Burak, Lydon and Zoe Downing are the only Skyhawks remaining from the championship squad.

“We always look at February as the time of the year when we’re supposed to be reaching our peak. We’re really excited to be able to compete at such a high level now and hopefully we’ll keep pulling through,” said Burak, 17.


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