Skyhawks suffer power shortage
Short bench derails women's basketball team in Panther Classic final
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 06:00 am
Spruce Grove – A short bench left the St. Albert Skyhawks walking the plank in Saturday’s final at the Panther Classic.
The seven player line-up went down to defeat 66-44 to the Spruce Grove Panthers, as the No. 5-ranked 4A team in the province dressed 12 players against the No. 3-ranked 4A Skyhawks.
“It was definitely a challenge but we just went out and tried our best and did with what we had and that’s all we could’ve done,” said Grade 11 Brielle Wise after only the third loss in 24 games for the Skyhawks.
The Panthers didn’t take the depleted Skyhawks for granted despite the absence of key starters Kayla and Jessa Ivicak, plus Jamie Bain, a dependable Grade 10 guard coming off the bench.
“We had an advantage but we knew it was going to be a hard game. St. Albert is not a team to give up so even if we were up we weren’t going to let down. We knew they were going to keep coming at us with all that they got, which is truly what happened. I don’t believe they ever gave up,” said Grade 11 guard Vanessa Wild, the Panthers’ top scorer with 15 points.
The first quarter ended with the Skyhawks ahead 17-16 as Wise nailed a three-ball in the last minute for the go-ahead points.
In the second quarter, after a Skyhawks’ timeout with 6:36 left until halftime, the Panthers outscored the visitors 14-2, including an 11-point run before the break to lead 38-21.
Down 55-27 after three quarters the Skyhawks outscored the Panthers 17-11 in the last 10 minutes of the game.
“We just gave it our all,” Wise said. “We had certain strategies to conserve energy for the entire game and we just kept pushing.”
Marinya Marcichiw of the Skyhawks led all scorers with 17 points on the strength of 10 in the first half.
Wise tossed in nine points and four Skyhawks chipped in with four apiece.
Madison Whiting and Sydney Kumar drained 14 points and Kathryn Sutherland added 10 for the Panthers.
Whiting’s three-pointer with 1:38 to go in the first half made it 34-21 and signaled the beginning of the end for the Skyhawks.
The match featured the top two teams in metro Edmonton division one. The Panthers (9-0) and Skyhawks (7-1) are expected to renew their Panthawk Basketball (Panther Athletic Club and Skyhawks Basketball) rivalry in the March 8 metro final at Jasper Place High School and at 4A provincials, March 20 to 22 at Chinook High School in Lethbridge.
In December the Panthers handed the Skyhawks their first loss since the semifinal of the 2013 Panthers Classic, 59-53 in league play at the SkyDome to snap an 18-game winning streak. Kayla Ivicak, a Grade 12 standout and U17 Team Alberta player with Marcichiw, Kumar and Wild at the 2013 Canada Summer Games, was injured and didn’t play in the loss.
“We’ve improved a lot actually since then. It was a greater difference (the margin of victory), but that includes the fact that they are missing players and we were both tired,” Wild said of the second game of the day for both teams. “We really pushed through because we wanted to win our home tournament so that really powered us through.”
A few days before the tournament the Panthers knocked off the surprising Paul Kane Blues (6-2), ranked eighth in 4A, 56-49 in league play in St. Albert.
“We’ve had some struggles and that game was when we were having a rough patch so this confidence boost from this game is exactly what we needed going through to playoffs,” Wild said.
The Skyhawks opened the Panther Classic by pounding the Lindsay Thurber Raiders of Red Deer 85-39 Friday. Marcichiw lit up the Raiders for 28 points, Kayla Ivicak drained 18 and had Jessa Ivicak had 10.
In Saturday’s semifinal Marcichiw tacked up 16 points in the 65-47 win over the Cardston Cougars. Kayla netted 11 points, Jessa tossed in 10 and Jamie Cole had nine.
“It was a real good game,” Wise said of the No. 8–ranked 4A Cougars. “To play against two pretty good teams in the province, and we’re ranked pretty high all three of us, was a very good test for us for provincials.”
The Panther Classic was the Skyhawks’ fifth tournament of the season. They were victorious three times and the runner-up at the Coyote Invitational in Lethbridge last month, losing 61-40 to the No. 1-ranked 4A Chinook Coyotes.
“We’re up for any challenge we’re up against and put up against. We just love the competition and being the best we can be,” said Wise, who played for U16 Team Alberta with Cole and Sutherland.
Tuesday the Skyhawks played the Jasper Place Rebels (1-8) but the score was unavailable at press time.
Today the Skyhawks host the O’Leary Spartans (5-3), a 4A honourable mention, at 5 p.m.
“We have some good games coming up and we just want to play the game that we always play and go from there,” Wise said.
FREE THROWS: The junior lady Skyhawks finished third overall at the Tri-Prov tournament at Harry Ainley High School by defeating the Dr. Martin LeBoldus Golden Suns of Regina 65-51 Saturday.
Robyn Kerr led the Skyhawks with 26 points and was the tournament MVP for the two-time defending metro premier (now division one) junior champions.
The Skyhawks had won all three tournaments entered before Tri-Prov.
Nicole Harrison, the Skyhawks’ player of the game, and Maddy Killoh led by example in the third-place playoff after the team’s 71-40 semifinal loss to the Cardston Cougars. The Skyhawks were out-hustled and Cardston couldn’t miss a shot.
In the Tri-Prov opener the Skyhawks downed the Bishop Carroll Cardinals of Calgary 66-64.
In league play the Skyhawks (7-1) hosted the O’Leary Spartans (2-5) Tuesday but the score was unavailable at press time.