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From Wildcards to Silver Medalists

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The SVRSS Senior Boys’ and Girls’ basketball teams both wrapped up their seasons last week, the boys clawing their way through the wildcard game into a provincal spot and the girls falling in their Tuesday (March 13) matchup.
Boys
The Senior Boys were riding a high as their wildcard game gained them entrance into the provincials and eventually into the final.
In the provincial final they faced their interzone rivals, the Neelin Spartans in Winnipeg on Saturday (March 17).
“They came out heavy and hard and took control in the first quarter,” said head coach Kevin Carter. “We were unorganized offensively and got caught flat-footed early on.”
The bad start cost the SVRSS Tigers as Neelin jumped to a 24 point lead by the end of the first quarter.
Trying to regain ground, the Tigers fought back as hard as they could but remained 21 points short at the half.
“Both teams continued to play and work hard in the second half, but we were unable to mount any sustained runs that could have led to closing the gap,” said Carter.
The final score was a devastating 86-64 loss but the Tigers held their heads high at the end of a remarkable season.
“There is a tremendous amount of respect between our program and Neelin's, which was very evident at the end of that game as both sets of players spent time congratulating each other on successful seasons prior to the formal handshake and presentations,” Carter said.
Two players were able to secure themselves extra credit for their weekend as David Muller was selected as the Player's Choice award recipient, which is an award voted on by the players. Muller, as well as Michael Chartrand, was also named a Tournament All-Star.
The semi-finals came against the number one seed Gordon Bell on Friday (March 16).
“Being the underdog comes with little pressure and we could stay loose, enjoy the game and the moment, and let the chips fall where they may,” said Carter. “Win or lose we were going to be playing for a medal on Saturday.”
Both sides came to play but an 11 point run saw the Tigers up 44 - 34 at the half.
Not going down easily, both teams stayed steady, pushed hard and ended up carrying the game into extra time, but the Tigers would hold on tight for a 91-86 victory.
“They started getting hot from the three-point-line and we panicked a bit, allowing them to come back and pass us,” said Carter. “We started a comeback and Riley Munro hit a three point shot with just 34 seconds remaining and Muller would tie it with foul shot opportunities.
“We scored the first 6 points of the overtime period giving but had fouled three players out of the game, leaving us without any eligible players if anyone else fouled out. Fortunately, we traded buckets into the last minute and held on for a 91-86 victory.
“The semi-final game was a huge victory for our players and program and it was definitely an emotional roller-coaster,” he continued.
Previously, the boys started their Provincial run against Ste. Anne on Thursday (March 15).
“We came out flying in this game and took control early with solid defense and a good fast break game,” said Carter.
The Tigers pulled out a 88-69 win, securing them a spot in the semi-finals.
On Suesday (March 13), thankful for the second chance in the form of a wildcard game, the SVRSS Boys were determined to make their way to the Provincials as they headed to play their wildcard game in Brandon, prepared to claw and scratch at the door if necessary.
It wasn’t going to come easily, but the boys were able to secure a 43-37 lead at the half against the number three ranked St. James Collegiate.
“St. James closed to five with just over two minutes left in the game but, as has been the case with our team throughout the year, we withstood that charge, executed down the stretch and held on to win 84 - 75,” said Carter.
“It was obviously a huge win for us as it qualified us for the Provincial tournament which became a goal as we proceeded through our season,” said Carter. “We had big games from all players in different ways.”
Thankful for the opportunities and for the support the team received all season, Carter and fellow coaches Brendan Fedorchuk, Ryan Maksymchuk and Garet Alexander are proud of what the team managed to achieve.
“I don't know if, as coaches, we could explain the ups and downs of the season and our unbelievable run at the end of the year to bring us to this point,” he said. “There were so many points over the last month where we questioned our expectations for our team, but that has been a common theme throughout the years.”
For a team that definitely took the harder path to the final, you couldn’t have asked for a better ending. Battling injuries and a short bench all along the way, they were able to stay competitive and become victorious as the second best team in the province.
“The semi-final against Gordon Bell was one of the most memorable experiences for me as a coach,” said Carter. “Advancing to the provincial final was icing on the cake and a bonus as we had looked at anything on the championship side of the provincial tournament as a success.”
“The group we had has been tremendously resilient.”
David Muller, Michael Chartrand, Riley Munro, Tre Fleury and Ethan Gott will now carry the great memories of their final year in high school basketball as they prepare to graduate in June and focus towards the big games they are to play in their futures.
Girls
The Girls tried their luck and skill against the Linden Christen Wings on March 13 in Brandon and, unfortunately, saw their season end there.
“We started the game really strong and followed the game plan we had implemented,” said head coach Shayne Yaschyshyn. “Linden Christen has a very dominate player and we knew we would need to contain her scoring chances. We kept her from running away from scoring easy baskets throughout the game. We played a strong defensive game but we couldn’t get a scoring rhythm going.”
The girls played hard till the buzzer but ended up on the losing end of a 50-33 final score and walked off the court for the final time this season.
“We had an awesome season,” said Yaschyshyn. “To go 20 and five and being tournament champions in five of seven tournaments we played in is a great accomplishment.”
With six players graduating – Siscely Konkin, Akira Lunding, Brenna Klatt, Zoe Winters, Brittaney Vandepoele and Jesse McCauley – the team is sure to see a new look with some very talented players joining from the junior league.
“Thank you to the players who worked as hard as any coach could ask for and played their best whenever we went onto the court,” concluded Yaschyshyn.

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Jakki Lumax
REPORTER
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