Senior girls basketball teams hit the hardwood as gameplay resumes in Metro Edmonton High School Athletics league.
After two weeks of pause during the winter break, St. Albert’s high school senior girls basketball teams are back on the court, vying for position against divisional rivals, looking to build on the successes of December, and gearing up for a tournament-packed January.
The Bellerose Bulldogs, who compete in Metro Edmonton’s third division, are off to a slower start than they were hoping for, beginning the 2022/23 season with a 2-4 record in their opening six games.
“We have not had a great start with wins in league play,” acknowledged head coach Haley Sorensen. “But the hard work is paying off, and we are hoping to sneak a playoff spot here in the second half of the season.”
As Sorensen points out, Bellerose is fielding a particularly young squad this season, a fact that she is optimistic will lead to greater success as the year progresses and her athletes gain minutes.
“Our players are fantastic and hard working. We are a young team filled with Grade 10s, and we have grown a lot since the beginning of the season. The longer we play, the more we are becoming a team,” Sorensen added, noting that her group is especially eager to appear at Memorial Composite High School’s invitational the first week of February.
The lady Blues, who play in Pool A of the Metro league’s combined Division I - Division II, started the season off by winning their first two games — first with a dominant 73-44 victory over St. Peter the Apostle, and then by besting Sturgeon 65-48.
According to head coach Nate Kerr, the early success is a product of the team’s cohesion and focus.
“I'm tremendously proud of our group so far. Our team set the tone early with some great dialogue in their player meetings held by our captains.
The coach said at the beginning of the season the team decided to focus on three words: persevere, accountability and unity.
"These are words I think each of our players hold in their minds when they approach each day. This has allowed them to continue to grow both on and off the court as young people, which is always the goal when we look at the season as a whole.”
And with the holiday break now in the rear-view mirror, Kerr says the girls are poised to build on the positive outcomes from December.
“I think I can speak for our group that we are excited for the test of playing Salisbury Composite at home next Monday, as well as our game against Scona later in February. Personally, I’m excited to play Western at St. Mary’s tournament in Calgary. They have been a top program every year, and its always exciting to play an opponent with their resumé.”
Still, Kerr’s Blues are taking things one game at a time. Although the team has demonstrated the ability to compete with the best rosters in the city, they’re not fixated on the postseason just yet.
“Playoffs aren't something we really focus on right now,” remarked Kerr. “When you build expectations that far in advance, you can easily lose focus on what needs to accomplished in the present moment: showing up and playing every possession with focus and a tremendous amount of effort.”
St. Albert Catholic High is 1-3 on the season so far, with a win against Mother Margaret Mary in Pool B of Metro Edmonton’s top division.
Like the team at Bellerose, this year’s Skyhawks squad is especially fresh-faced.
“This group is a relatively young and inexperienced team as a collective,” pointed out head coach Hayley Francois. “That being said, their performance so far this season has been where I hoped it would be.”
“There is still much to work on, however, this is an incredibly motivated group that is willing to put the work in to get where we want to be.”
Officially, Metro Athletics is structured such that SACHS is competing above its weight class, but nevertheless, Francois insists her group has the ability and determination to find success.
“The league is set up so that we are in a pool that consists of both Division I and Division II teams, and as a Division II team playing against some respectably tough competition, the girls have shown themselves to be a competitive team regardless. The goal is to make playoffs. From there, everything would be considered a bonus.”
And with a packed schedule throughout January, there are no shortage of opportunities for the Skyhawks to sharpen their play for a postseason push, including the Morinville Invitational tournament this upcoming weekend.
“The tournaments will be a great opportunity for the team to continue to familiarize playing with each other as there are few league games in January. I look forward to seeing how their hard work over these past two months comes together in both tournaments.”
The Metro Edmonton High School Athletics’ comprehensive standings, schedule and results can be found on their website.