By Greg Price
W.R. Myers Rebels varsity girls basketball team is only a week into its 2016-2017 hardcourt season, and already they are getting battle tested.
The Rebels earned the bronze medal at its tournament run at Cardston this past week as all three games were decided by seven points or less.
“With the new players coming in, I think it shows the difference from where they were playing before. If you miss a few shots here and there, a tight game becomes a loss and a game that shouldn’t be tight, becomes tight,” said Kenney Wood, head coach of the W.R. Myers Rebels varsity girls basketball team. “We didn’t shoot foul shots very well throughout the tournament.”
That eventually caught up with the Rebels in its semifinal game against Raymond Comets in a 41-38 loss that pushed them into the bronze-medal game.
“In the game against Raymond, we were 6-for-20 from the free-throw line,” said Wood. “We had a lapse late defensively, where they hit a three pointer that put them up and then we didn’t get a good shot off at the end.”
Natalie Hoyt led the Rebels in scoring in the game with 18 points while Millay Johnson got the double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
It set up the bronze-medal game against the Magrath Pandas where the Rebels raced out to a comfortable first-quarter lead, only to see it evaporate at half-time.
“In the second quarter, we only scored three points,” said Wood, as the Rebels trailed 17-15 before both teams went on an offensive barrage. “The girls are seeing no matter if a basket is made in the first minute of the game, or the last minute of the game, they are all the same. Open shots need to be made, and you can’t have a lapse on defence, because two points may be the difference.”
The Rebels made more of those open shots in the second half, eventually beating the Pandas 48-41 to earn the bronze medal.
Johnson poured in 17 points for the Rebels and Austen Robbins added 10.
The Rebels started its tournament run with a 55-50 win over Catholic Central Cougars.
Kitawna Sparks hit for 16 points and Hoyt added 12. Johnson scored 11 points and Genna Wright added 10 to round out the double-digit scorers for the Rebels.
The tournament set the tone for the Rebels that very few games in Southern Alberta High School Girls Basketball League play this season will be easy ones for the defending 3A provincial champions.
“There is a lot of parity in the league. I think LCI will be tough, but the rest of the teams will be very equal. That being said, you got to bring your game or you are going to lose. It was a good tournament where the kids got playing time,” said Wood. “We are trying to figure out who is playing where and what’s going to go on with who will be the key scorers, who will be our top defenders.”
The W.R. Myers Rebels varsity girls basketball team did start its regular season with a victory with a 54-51 win over Cardston Cougars in its home opener last Wednesday, as the Rebels found the will to win, constantly trailing until the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t pretty but it was a win. With the team only having a week and a half to prepare for this game, we were pretty raw. Offensively we struggled to put points on the board and we were a little soft on defence. We let them get way too many offensive rebounds, which gave Cardston multiple attempts to score. When you give a team three or four opportunities to score (on the same possession) you are always going to be playing catch up,” said Wood.
“We kept working though that and never let them build any lead that we couldn’t make up. We finally pulled ahead in the fourth quarter and played some solid defence and got some defensive boards at critical times late in the game. We hit some big foul shots at the end of the game to keep the lead. The good news was overall we played good enough to win. The really good news is we are only going to get better.”
Hoyt had 15 points in the contest with Sparks chipping in 11 points to go with eight rebounds.
Johnson and Langley Moser had eight points apiece.
The Rebels are off to a tournament at Kate Andrews this weekend before traveling to Lethbridge Collegiate Institute on Dec. 21 to battle the Clippers in league play before heading off for the Christmas break.