By Greg Price
Everyone knew it would come down to this.
After a thrilling 3A zone battle between the W.R. Myers Rebels varsity girls basketball team and McCoy Colts, the two juggernauts faced off once again in the weekend’s provincial final, but this time McCoy got the better of the Rebels in a 46-41 loss in front of a packed crowd in Medicine Hat.
“We knew that this game was going to be a battle both mentally and physically. The gym was packed tight like a can of sardines. People were crammed in the bleachers, sitting in random chairs, laying on the floor and standing in any empty spot available, it was an awesome atmosphere to play a championship game in,” said Kenney Wood, head coach of the W.R. Myers Rebels varsity girls basketball team.
Having just played each other the previous weekend in the zone championship in which the Rebels squeaked out a single-basket victory, adjustments were made that slowed both sides’ offensive game plans.
“We came out in playing man-to-man defensively which somewhat shut down their perimetre game. We limited them to only five points in the first quarter, but they too worked their game plan on us and we only scored nine points that quarter,” said Kenney. “This game was truly turning into a defensive battle. The third quarter we had a couple of defensive miscues which gave them a few easy baskets and by the end of the third we were down by 10. The game was seeming to be playing out exactly the way our last game had been.”
The Rebels proved even more stingy defensively in the fourth quarter, giving up a mere three points, but being able to only generate eight themselves, could not close the gap.
“We had in December set an extremely difficult goal to repeat as provincial champions. We worked hard and had placed ourselves in the provincial championship to do just that,” said Wood. “Marty, Brandon and I are so proud of the way we played all season long, we had some very difficult games along the way that brought us to that final game. Going into the provincial tourney we had some players not feeling well, so we knew that if we were to repeat as provincial champs we would have to have a few breaks go our way, unfortunately those breaks didn’t come.”
Two Rebels were able to garner double-doubles in the provincial final with Millay Johnson getting 10 points and 10 rebounds and Kitawna Sparks getting 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Genna Wright had 10 points.
The Rebels kicked off its provincial run with a 76-51 win over Bowness Trojans, racing out to a 24-10 lead after the first quarter.
Natalie Hoyt had a team-high 19 points for the Rebels and Langley Moser had 16 points. Sparks had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Johnson chipped in 11 points.
“Everyone was able to play substantial minutes in this game and the team felt great about getting its first win in the provincial tournament,” said Wood.
The Rebels made it to the provincial final by beating pesky Magrath Pandas 61-45, slowing down a Pandas team that had plenty of momentum.
“Having played Magrath a couple times already this season, we knew we could not take them lightly. They had played earlier in the day and upset Edmonton Christian who were ranked higher than the Pandas, so they were coming off a great game,” said Wood. “We were again able to build a lead in the first and then second quarter, and even though the Pandas were able to mount a few runs at us in the second half, we were able to hold our lead and finish out the game.”
Johnson had the double-double of 15 points to go with 12 steals. Hoyt poured in 14 points and Sparks hit for 11 points and hauled in 13 rebounds.
It all encompassed a provincial run that ended in a silver medal for the team as the Rebels and Colts have had some epic battles in recent years.
“Over the past two seasons, we have played McCoy five times, last year beating them in the Rebel Classic final and in the zone final and then the provincial final,” said Woo. “This year it was winning in the zone final and then finally falling to them in the provincial final. We have over the past two years, been ranked first with McCoy being ranked second in the province. It is extremely difficult to beat a team like McCoy five times in a row. Marty, Brandon and I would like to thank all the people that have come out to support us this year. The team loves the wonderful support that they receive from the community and hope that they will continue to provide them with more exciting games in the future.”