The St. Albert Skyhawks issued the following statement after Wednesday’s season-altering victory in high school women’s basketball.
“When we play our best basketball we can compete against the top teams in the province and today that puts our message out there for everyone that we are someone to be scared of and to worry about,” proclaimed Skyhawks’ veteran Abby Morrison after the remarkable 68-59 upset of the defending 4A provincial champion Jasper Place Rebels at the SkyDome.
“It’s a huge victory for us. They’re the number one ranked team in the province right now and we’re number 10. We came into this being the underdogs and there wasn’t much pressure on us and we just knew we were going to come out and do our best and today it got us the win and I’m really proud of the whole team,” added Morrison, a Grade 12 guard and the team’s impeccable leader.
“I’m still in awe of what we did.”
Jasper Place is 26-3 overall and one of the wins was 59-54 against the Skyhawks in the semifinal of the Paul Kane Classic last month.
“We wanted this one,” Morrison said. “Every game this season has been preparation for this one.”
The Skyhawks finished the metro Edmonton division one regular season in a three-way deadlock with Jasper Place and the Paul Kane Blues at 10-1 after taming the visiting Leduc Tigers 68-56 Thursday. Leduc placed fourth at 8-3.
The tiebreaker involving head-to-head games between the three first-place teams put the Skyhawks on top at plus-five, Jasper Place is second at plus-four and Paul Kane is third at minus-nine.
The playoffs tip-off Monday with the Skyhawks hosting the Strathcona Lords (4-7) at 5:30 p.m., Jasper Place entertains the St. Peter The Apostle Spartans (4-7) at 5 p.m. and Paul Kane welcomes the Salisbury Sabres (6-5) at 5:30 p.m.
The semifinals are Wednesday and it’s expected the Skyhawks and Leduc will meet again in St. Albert and Paul Kane will travel to play the Rebels, the two-time defending division one champions.
The final is next Saturday at 5 p.m. at Jasper Place.
“We can’t shut down. We’ve got to keep going,” said Grade 11 winger Brooke Froment of the 23-6 Skyhawks, “We’re really coming together now. We were more individual at the start of the year and now we’re working more as a team. Our energy is really high, especially our defensive energy.”
The Skyhawks looked like the real deal in the barnburner against a Jasper Place squad fresh off its Tri-Prov tournament title at Harry Ainlay.
“There was no quit in us today. We had high energy and great bench support. It was really good to see,” Morrison said. “It boiled down to composure and executing in really high pressure end-of-game situations. We were hitting our free throws and we hit some really important shots at the end.”
Down by two after the first quarter, the Skyhawks lit it up offensively to lead 30-24 at halftime as a red-hot Teá DeMong dropped in 10 points and Aine Murphy ended the half with a mighty three-pointer.
In the third quarter, Jasper Place pulled even with the Skyhawks three times and the team’s third three-pointer of the period tied it at 46 with two ticks left in the period.
The teams exchanged points to start off the last quarter before Mimi Sigue converted a heads-up pass from Morrison to put the Skyhawks on top at 55-54 with 3:21 to play.
On the next possession by Jasper Place, Sigue snagged a defensive rebound to set the wheels in motion for a determined drive to the hoop by Morrison, who was fouled on the play and she nailed both free throws.
Morrison, 17, also popped in two more free throws to make it 59-54 with 2:23 to go.
Morrison scored only seven points on the night, all in the fourth quarter, and the only basket was a biggie as she flung a Hail Mary shot for a clutch three-pointer with 1:48 remaining to widen the gap at 62-54.
Froment, 16, a noted long-range shooter, silenced a vocal group of Jasper Place parents with her third three-pointer and the dagger from the corner of the floor in front of the Skyhawks’ bench sealed the deal at 65-55 with 74 seconds left.
“Brooke really got a nice one away at the very end and it was very key for us,” Morrison said of the game’s exclamation mark.
“It was exciting to do that. It definitely fired everyone up, the same with Abby’s too,” added Froment, who closed out the scoring with a three-point play in the dying seconds.
Froment’s 15 points was second to DeMong’s game-high 19.
Sigue, a physical post with a gritty rugby mentality, Kamryn DeKlerk and Kyleigh Kornak also chipped in with timely baskets.
“We had good energy all game. Everyone coming off the bench was great. They were all ready to go,” Froment said.
Jasper Place was led by Sarah Rinsky’s 18 points, including three three-pointers in the second half, and 16 for Sydney Fedick, who will join Morrison as prized recruits on the Alberta Pandas next season.
Timely stops by the Skyhawks in pivotal moments was another deciding factor in the match.
“They have a couple of key players that could’ve hurt us but we played as a team so we could shut them down,” said Froment, one of four returnees from the 2017 division one semifinalists and 4A provincial consolation champions.