By Greg Price
The W.R. Myers Rebels varsity girls basketball team have a 13-1 record and sit atop the 3A provincial rankings along with the top of the Southern Alberta High School Girls Basketball League with a flawless 5-0 record.
But, it is a team that is not sitting on its laurels in a team that show sits tenacity on both sides of the floor.
“The defence is driving everything. I’ve never seen a group of girls, or players for that matter as I’ve coached boys for 12 years too, that are just so strong defensively. They know how to rotate, they know when to switch players, they just love to play defence,” said Kenney Wood, head coach of the W.R. Myers Rebels varsity girls basketball team. “Most kids dread playing defence because it’s hard work. Offence is easy work. I emphasize this all over where I’ve coached…anyone can play defence. I don’t care who you are with how big you are or how little you are, defence is all about grit and determination with not giving up. With offence, some kids are never going to score 20 points in a game, but with defence, you can earn a spot in the starting lineup if you are a great defender where you will get some major minutes.”
Wood had been spoiled this season where he has a handful of players that are both solid offensive and defensive players, capable of double doubles in both points and rebounds along with on-the-ball harassment of their opposition in making any sort of offensive game flow difficult.
“That is why our record has been the way it is the last few years, is because we’ve had several phenomenal both-end-of-the-court athletes,” said Wood. “It’s like a bug where one girl sees what another girl is doing and they want to emulate it and be that defensive stopper and not let the team down.”
All the skill in the world is a good thing in athletics, but with it must come chemistry, in which Wood adds the team is having fun playing, with each understanding their specific roles that adds to the cohesiveness of the team.
“We have people understand how they can make the team better and what they need to do to do that,” said Wood. “They have it figured out that this one person shouldn’t bring the ball up the floor, so don’t pass it to them then. This person is supposed to guard defenders and not double teams, so don’t expect help. It’s that basketball IQ that you think you can teach. You can a little bit. Some kids get it or they don’t get it and most of these girls get it most of the time. They just understand what they need to do to be successful in basketball.”
There is a long layoff for the Rebels in which the squad hopes not to lose its forward momentum, not returning to the hardcourt until next Wednesday (Feb. 3) in which the team hosts Medicine Hat Kwahommies (3-2) at 8 p.m. The Rebels girls then host LCI (4-0) on Feb. 10 and Winston Churchill (0-4) on Feb. 12.
“Medicine Hat is going to be tough and LCI is going to be tough. We are trying not to lose our momentum by having some fairly intense practices to keep that momentum going,” said Wood. “The league this year, some teams have dropped a bit, but Medicine Hat is going to be tough. They played LCI and LCI blew them out, and I don’t know what the heck happened, because after that, they’ve played some phenomenal basketball.”
One of the Kwahommies players is continuing her basketball at the University of Lethbridge, as a five-foot-11 player that can shoot the three, bring the ball down the floor and post up.
“Our defence again will determine the outcome of that game. We have a lot of scorers. But defensively, very few teams against us recently have scored over 40 points on us,” said Wood. “When we were in the final of the Bev Facey tournament, they had a player that is going to U of A and she was a non-factor, we defended her so well. Going forward and finishing off the season here, when we come across those teams that have that dominate player, we have defenders that are as good or better than anything they’ve seen. I don’t care if your five-foot-11 and our girl is five-foot-seven, they are smart enough, quick enough and athletic enough to get the job done. We have enough players where I can say you take that dominate player for a few minutes, then you take her for a few minutes and then you take her for a few minutes where we can wear that one dominate player out.”
Five games into 14 games of league play, Wood is well aware there is plenty of season left where the team has to remain focused to continue its success, hopefully to a long and prosperous 3A zone and provincial run.
“We have a target on us now and we have to keep the momentum going,” said Wood.