Basketball season underway

by Phil Ambroziak

The action is once again heating up on the Carpenter High School basketball court.

This year’s high school basketball season officially kicked off a few short weeks ago with both the CHS boys and girls squads already seeing action.

This past weekend, the girls competed in a tournament at John Paul II Collegiate in North Battleford where they placed second overall, defeating Nipawin and John Paul II before losing in the finals to Warman. According to coach Carla Waterman, this was only the first step toward what she hopes is a return visit to Hoopla, the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association’s (SHSAA) provincial basketball competition.

“Our goal is always to get to Hoopla, but that all stems on what the other teams in the province look like,” Waterman said. “A lot of teams lost some really good senior players since last year. As defending champions, you always want to get back there and defend that title. We’re still in the 4A category, so this year we will see some of the same teams we’ve faced in the past. I think Notre Dame from Wilcox will be the team to beat this year while Moose Jaw Peacock and North Battleford Comprehensive will also be tough.”

The girls also competed in a preseason tournament the previous weekend in North Battleford where they played, and lost, in two games of the three-team round-robin event.

“We went down without our seniors – it was mainly a Grade 10 squad,” Waterman continued. “Six of our players have returned from last year’s provincial team – three Grade 12s and three Grade 11s, so we still have a core group. The rest are all rookies. As I look our team, we’re going to be OK in terms of perimeter players. Post positions might be an area we’ll need to fill.”

Returning players include Brenna Seymour, Toni Epp, Ainsley Chiverton, Taiya Paylor, Tamara Gardiner and Laura Ferguson. This year also marks Grade 12 player Nicole Vidal’s return to the team. She played two years ago, but took a break from basketball last year.

“It’s still very early in the season, but I’m really looking to my six returning players to lead by example,” Waterman said. “It’s not totally a rebuilding year, but we do have some work to do. It’s a good bunch of kids and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Boys’ action
On the boys’ side of things, basketball practice began Nov. 18 and once again proved to be quite popular amongst would-be participants.

“We had a lot of kids try out – about 30 of them,” noted Jesse Shakotko, who coaches the boys team alongside Kendra Syrota. “It’s nice to see such a huge response, but unfortunately that means we did have to send some people home.”

After a week of preliminary training, the team was narrowed down to 16 players including what Shakotko described as a good mix of rookies and senior players.

“Two of our Grade 10 players are from Green Lake,” he added. “It’s good to see kids from that community involved because I know it can sometimes be hard to come from a different community and mesh in.”

In preseason action late last month, the boys lost to St. Mary High School in Prince Albert before going on to win a close one against North Battleford Comprehensive High School. This past weekend, at a tournament held in Prince Albert, CHS lost to Melfort 62-46, came back to defeat Birch Hills 63-38 then lost 63-55 to the Lighthouse Christian Academy from Saskatoon in the consolation finals.

“We have a lot of talent and a lot of returning players,” Shakotko said. “This year we’re trying to focus on getting into more of a running game, which will help us score quicker. A lot of our players are fairly tall and a lot of them are quite fast.”

Last year, the CHS boys made it as far as regional competition, but did not qualify for provincials.
“Our main goal is to get to Hoopla, but we’ll have to see how the season goes,” Shakotko noted.

“We’re trying to become more intense, more hungry for the ball, so hopefully that will help us get there.”

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