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Junior Skyhawks seek to repeat

Defending premier champions play ABJ Scots today in a rematch of the 2012 final in metro Edmonton high school basketball

By: Jeff Hansen

  |  Posted: Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 06:00 am

BUSTING A MOVE - Abby Schneider of the St. Albert Skyhawks drives past a Bev Facey defender in Tuesday's metro Edmonton premier junior semifinal at the SkyDome. Schneider scored 12 points in the 47-27 win. The Skyhawks will defend their premier title against the Archbishop Jordan Scots today in a rematch of last year's final. Tip-off is 1 p.m. at O'Leary High School.
BUSTING A MOVE - Abby Schneider of the St. Albert Skyhawks drives past a Bev Facey defender in Tuesday's metro Edmonton premier junior semifinal at the SkyDome. Schneider scored 12 points in the 47-27 win. The Skyhawks will defend their premier title against the Archbishop Jordan Scots today in a rematch of last year's final. Tip-off is 1 p.m. at O'Leary High School.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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The St. Albert Skyhawks will defend their coveted premier junior women’s crown today in metro Edmonton high school basketball.

The final between the Skyhawks and Archbishop Jordan Scots tips off at 1 p.m. at O’Leary High School. Admission is $5 and youths under 12 get in free.

“It’s really exciting to have this experience two years in a row and prove that SACHS is always willing to fight until the buzzer goes,” said Grade 11 post Nicole Brown after Tuesday’s decisive 47-27 playoff win against the Bev Facey Falcons at the SkyDome.

The Scots (11-1) and Skyhawks (10-2) finished first and second, respectively, in the seven-team division.

The Scots had a bye in the first round and eliminated the fourth-place O’Leary Spartans 60-32 in the semifinals.

The Skyhawks tattooed the winless Paul Kane Blues 63-35 in last week’s playoff.

Head to head the Sherwood Park team downed the Skyhawks 66-38 in the second game of the season and 59-45 on Feb. 5.

“They really step up the competition when we’re on the court. They run a lot faster. It’s a faster paced game. They play tougher D. They’re more of a skilled team than Facey,” Brown said. “In the second game we fought a lot more. We went in with a lot more confidence and we had a lot more practices to work on our skill development but we could still step it up and be a better team on the court. We just need to bring it more and not get so flustered.”

Last year the Skyhawks knocked off the undefeated Scots 53-43 for their first premier junior banner in school history.

The last time the lady Skyhawks won junior honours in basketball was 1996 as city conference champions.

“Last year’s team had a lot of returning players from Grade 10 so we had a lot of skill development already on the team but we had to work a lot harder and fight a lot more this year because we had a lot more Grade 10s on the team,” said Brown, one of five returning Skyhawks on the 10-player roster. “We have a lot of heart on this team. We fight for every point and even if it’s a really difficult team we still manage to dig really deep. No matter what we’re always fighting on the court.”

But in order to repeat, the Skyhawks will have to show more consistency on offence. They dominated ball possession against Facey, but for prolonged and agonizing stretches they couldn’t hit sand falling off a camel when it came to putting the ball through the hoop.

A three-point play by Brown with 5:06 left in a tedious first quarter broke a 2-2 stalemate.

The Skyhawks went on to post a 17-5 lead after the opening period and Brianne Brand’s offensive rebound to beat the buzzer made it 29-13 at halftime.

Despite a foul-plagued third quarter, the Skyhawks led 36-22 with 10 minutes to play.

Brown, 16, scored the team’s first seven points and finished the semifinal with 12.

Abby Schneider sank 10 of her 12 points in the first half.

Carly Zimmer hit the game’s only three-pointer with 6:36 remaining to put the Skyhawks up 44-22. The member of the 2012 U16 provincial team and Nathalie Hajek had seven points apiece.

“It was a pretty good game but we’ve had better,” Brown said. “We played with a lot of heart this game and we really showed that we really wanted to make it to the finals again.”


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