Skyhawks strive for stardom
High school women's basketball team is 19-2 overall and ranked third provincially in 4A
Saturday, Feb 15, 2014 06:00 am
Here is a scary thought: The St. Albert Skyhawks – 19-2 overall as the No. 3-ranked 4A high school women’s basketball team in Alberta – still haven’t reached their competitive peak.
“We definitely have things to work on as a team as a whole,” said Jamie Cole, a Grade 11 post for the 7-1 metro Edmonton division one Skyhawks. “We’ve definitely taken a giant step forward since the beginning of the season and we’re going to continue to get better with every game and improve bit by bit.”
The Skyhawks have high hopes of winning the Panther Classic this weekend at Spruce Grove Composite High School.
The highest-ranked 4A team in the eight-team draw played Lindsey Thurber of Red Deer in Friday’s opener but the score was unavailable at press time.
Today the Skyhawks will face the Harry Ainlay Titans, a 4A honourable mention, or the No. 6-ranked 4A Cardston Cougars at 9:45 a.m. on the consolation side or in the 11:30 a.m. semifinal.
The consolation final is 4:45 p.m., the third place game is 6:30 p.m. and the final is 8:15 p.m.
“We’re super excited. The teams that are playing in the tournament this year are good competition for us as we look forward to the playoffs later on in the season,” Cole said.
The draw is set up for the Skyhawks and the host Panthers to go toe-to-toe in the final. The No. 5-ranked 4A Panthers, 9-0 in division one, clipped the Skyhawks 59-53 Dec. 16 at the SkyDome. It was the team’s first loss after 18 games since the 78-63 overtime downfall to the 4A Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs of Calgary in the semifinal of the Panthers tournament last February.
“We definitely want to meet Spruce in the final. We want another crack at them. We know that we’re a different team now (Grade 12 standout Kayla Ivicak was injured and didn’t play in the Dec. 16 loss). We have more to offer and it’s going to be a different game,” said Cole, one of seven returning Skyhawks from last year’s 39-1 team that celebrated a record-breaking fourth-straight 3A provincial championship.
In four tournaments the Skyhawks were victorious three times and finished second at the Coyote Invitational in Lethbridge last month, losing 61-40 to the No. 1-ranked 4A Chinook Coyotes.
“We always go into tournaments ready to play. We practice hard for them. When it comes game time we warm up good, we know what we’re going to play and we feel confident,” Cole said. “We have a lot of confidence in our team. We’ve developed so much as a team. We have so much potential. We just trust each other and we know that we’ll play good.”
The last league game for the two-time defending metro premier (now division one) champions was Wednesday’s 85-33 rout of the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds (2-7) at the SkyDome.
The Skyhawks quickly pulled away in the first half to lead 46-21 at the break.
Marinya Marcichiw racked up 23 points, Brielle Wise drained 13 and Riki Steward added 10 against a Shep squad that would have a tough time beating the Skyhawks’ junior girls.
“We were ready for this game and we came out strong. We pressed them, got up early and played our game,” said Cole, a reliable role player who scored eight points in the blowout.
It was the third league game in a row at home the Skyhawks dominated teams with losing records. They crushed the winless Archbishop MacDonald Marauders 101-36 last week and Monday throttled the Archbishop Jordan Scots (1-7) 82-31.
“If they’re low in the standings you can’t sink to their level, you have to maintain your intensity and maintain your standard of what basketball we play,” said Cole, a U16 Team Alberta player with Wise last summer.
The Skyhawks are flying high after shredding the No. 8-ranked 4A Paul Kane Blues (6-2) twice in four days by scores of 61-36 in the final of the Skyhawks Invitational and 69-31 in league play at the SkyDome.
“Since they’re our rival school we definitely have satisfaction beating them but we can meet them again in playoffs and we don’t want to take anything for granted so whenever we play against them it’s definitely a new game,” said Cole, 16.
The Skyhawks resume league play next week against the host Jasper Place Rebels (1-8) Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and the O’Leary Spartans (5-3), a 4A honourable mention, Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the SkyDome.