Skyhawks simply the best
High school women's basketball team is 100-23, with three straight 3A provincial titles
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012 06:00 am
The St. Albert Skyhawks continued their winning tradition in high school women’s basketball with an unprecedented third straight gold medal at the 3A provincials.
Saturday’s hard-fought 68-64 decision against the McCoy Colts of Medicine Hat was also the 100th victory in 123 games during the Skyhawks’ three-year championship reign.
“We have to be considered one of the elite programs in the province, given our success against 4A competition in league play as well as tournament play,” said head coach John Dedrick. “We’ve built a tradition here at St. Albert Catholic High School and we hope to continue and help grow and maintain that for as long as we can.”
A lengthy list of accomplishments includes two undefeated metro Edmonton premier conference seasons.
The Skyhawks are also the only St. Albert women’s basketball team to win premier and provincial championships.
This year marked the eighth consecutive provincials for the Skyhawks and the sixth year in a row they qualified as the Edmonton zone champions.
“It all started eight years ago with the Meghan Martynas and the Megan Hogendoorns and the Caitlin Marshalls and having those sets of parents buy into my kind of style of coaching,” said Dedrick. “There are a lot of girls’ teams that the parents and players would not be to handle the way that I get on the players and some of the stuff we do in practice where we’re aggressive and loud and physical. Those parents all bought into that and it’s just grown from there and so have the expectations.
“That laid the groundwork for me to do the things I felt were right like spring league, go to Gonzaga in the summer and talk to kids that want to play basketball and say, ‘Hey, I think we have a really good program and if you’re interested in coming here this is what we can offer you.’ ”
Last season Haley England joined the Skyhawks after playing for the Morinville Lady Wolves in Grade 10 and was a major contributor to the team’s success as provincial champions.
“I’m so glad I decided to become a Skyhawk. I wasn’t the player I am now since I came to coach Dedrick’s team. He works so hard and he gives you that extra time. [Assistant coach] Paige Gaudreau also gives you that extra time,” England said. “The program is simply great. It’s a family and it’s a commitment, but it’s the best commitment you will ever give.”
Gaudreau is a former Alberta Colleges’ Athletic Association all-star with Augustana University College who joined the Skyhawks three seasons ago.
“I can not underestimate the impact Paige has had. She was a point guard at an elite level and sees the game from almost a different view point than I do,” Dedrick said. “We tease each other about being Yin and Yang and it truly is that because we bounce ideas off each other all the time. She has full access to anything that we do. She runs drills. She will take a time out. She will draw up plays. It really is a team effort in terms of coaching and I’m lucky to have her.”
The third consecutive championship by the Skyhawks also marked the swan song for third-year players Kendall Lydon, Katie Burak and Zoe Downing.
“Each year we’ve had amazing players come in. It’s been the best experience I’ve ever had in basketball,” said Lydon, an 18-year-old transfer student from the Chehalis Bearcats in Washington State.
“To end off your high school career on this note is so surreal. It just feels unreal,” said Burak, 17.
“The third one feels amazing. It‘s the best for sure,” said Downing, 18.
Dedrick had trouble picking which gold medal was the best of the bunch.
“The sweetest is always the first [56-48 over the Magrath Pandas in 2010], that’s just my personal opinion,” he said. “This one was obviously the closest and probably the most difficult because we have a lot of respect for McCoy. They’re really kind of a mirrored version of ourselves. We’re probably a little bit physically stronger but they’re taller.
“We do a lot of the same things and have had a lot of the same successes so to be able to meet them in the final two years in a row and be able to come away with victories is a huge accomplishment for us.”
In the rematch of last year’s final the Skyhawks never trailed while posting leads of 15-12 at the end of the first quarter, 34-22 at halftime and 50-42 after three quarters.
The third time McCoy tied the score was a three-pointer with 5:12 to play to make it 56-all.
“We knew they’re going to make runs so it’s how you respond that will probably make or break the rest of the game and we showed great mental toughness to come out with the win,” said Dedrick, who coached the Skyhawks men’s team to a silver medal at the 1997 3A provincials.