Skyhawks fly high at Mike Dea Classic
St. Albert High women's basketball team wins season-opening tournament at St. Francis Xavier High School
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 06:00 am
SFX High School – The St. Albert Skyhawks tipped off a new era as 4A provincial contenders by winning the 16th annual Mike Dea Classic.
Marinya Marcichiw, the tournament MVP, drained a team-high 26 points and all-star Brielle Wise sank 15 in the 95-88 triumph against the Dr. Martin LeBoldus Golden Suns of Regina in Saturday’s final at St. Francis Xavier High School.
“It was good to see where we are and now we can work harder on things that we need to improve on as we push towards 4A provincials,” said Riki Steward, a stalwart rebounder who tossed in 12 points against the Suns.
Consistency in several areas propelled the Skyhawks to victory.
“Our defence and rebounding was very strong,” Steward said. “Our communication worked really well too. Sometimes we would fall short on it but (head coach Paige) Gaudreau would say pick it up. Even in warm-ups communication helps us get ready for the game.”
The 3A provincial champions the last four years also defeated two Saskatoon teams in the season-opening tournament: St. Joseph Guardians 75-47 and Bishop James Mahoney Saints 63-45.
Marcichiw buried 17 points and Wise added 16 in the team’s first game.
In the semifinal Wise tacked up 16, Marcichiw scored 13 and Steward had 10 against Mahoney.
“We improved a lot over the last three games,” Steward said. “The first two games we played pretty well but these guys (the Suns) were the hardest team we played.”
A 12-point run to close out the first quarter against the Suns, highlighted by Steward’s eight points and co-captain Isabelle Durocher’s buzzer beater, lifted the Skyhawks into a sizable 29-18 lead.
The Suns chipped away to cut the deficit to three points before Durocher wired a shot from the corner to kick-start an eight-point stretch to make it 43-32 with under two minutes left in the first half.
Jamie Cole’s hook shot ended the half with the Skyhawks on top 47-36.
“We started off really strong. All that hard work and effort that we put into practices really showed,” Steward said.
Marcichiw recorded eight points in the second quarter after a scoreless opening 10 minutes by the Grade 11 post.
Marcichiw and Wise combined for the team’s first 11 points in the third quarter.
Jamie Bain’s three-pointer halfway through the quarter left the Suns down by 14.
The last 10 points by the Skyhawks before quarter time were a pair of threes by Wise and two field goals by Marcichiw to remain on top at 73-63.
Marcichiw racked up eight points in the opening 1:35 minutes of the last quarter, and 18 overall in the second half, before fouling out with 51 seconds to play and the Skyhawks in front by five.
The Suns – winners of the last two Mike Dea tournaments, including an 88-71 decision over the Skyhawks in the 2011 final – refused to go away and out-scored the Skyhawks 10-2 to trail 83-78 with under six minutes remaining.
Clutch points by Durocher, Bain, Steward, Marcichiw and Wise down the stretch sealed the deal.
“They were coming back against us really hard and we just had to keep fighting. The last quarter we had to push hard and get in the defensive end and offensive end and rebound,” Steward said. “Rebounding was our strong point in the game.”
The pint-sized Durocher and Bain, a Grade 10 guard from Sir George Simpson, finished with nine points apiece. Jessa Ivicak, a physical presence on the court, chipped in with eight.
Steward, 16, terrorized the Suns in the paint while attacking the boards like a rugby player plowing into a ruck.
“We have to get those boards. That’s one of the things that we always have to work hard at,” said one of seven returning players from the Skyhawks’ historic 39-1 rampage as winners of five out of six tournaments last season.
The Skyhawks have raised the bar by going 4A after dominating the 3A ranks. Hooping it up against 4A competition in the metro Edmonton premier conference, the Skyhawks finished undefeated as league champions in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
This is also the first season for Edmonton public league teams in metro and premier is now called division one.
“A lot of us are excited but some of us are nervous too. The pressure is on but you’ve got to expect the hardest and just work your best,” said Steward, teammates with Cole and Ivicak on the 24-0 SAPEC junior high champion Vincent J. Maloney Marauders in 2012.
In league play Monday, the Skyhawks crushed the Strathcona Lords 76-40 in Edmonton. Wise led the way with 21 points and Marcichiw netted 20.
Today at 5 p.m. the Skyhawks visit the Archbishop MacDonald Marauders.
FREE THROWS: Visit www.stalbertgazette.com for the team picture at the Mike Dea Classic.
Grade 12 co-captain Kayla Ivicak sat out the tournament with a lower body injury suffered the week before at the 3A provincial volleyball championships with the silver-medal winning Skyhawks.
The senior and junior Skyhawks are entered in the 32nd annual REB tournament at Jasper Place High School. Thursday the senior girls play the St. Mary’s Saints of Calgary at 3:45 p.m. and the junior girls – two-time defending metro junior premier champions – face the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds at 5:30 p.m.
Visit www.rebinvitational.com for schedules and results.