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R.F. Staples senior girls place fifth at 3A Provincials

T-Birds fall 66-41 to Strathmore in second round, end up competing in consolation final

WESTLOCK — The R.F. Staples senior girls' basketball team placed firth this past week at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) 3A Girls' Provincials in Strathmore from March 14-16.

While they didn't make it to the medal rounds, coach Wade Hicks said this was still a "very successful weekend" for the girls, who had earned a spot at provincials by winning the 3A North Central Zone Championship on March 8-9.

He said this was the highest placing at provincials for a girls' basketball team from R.F. Staples, noting that last year they lost in the fifth-sixth place game to the Winston Churchill High School Griffins out of Lethbridge.

The Thunderbirds started out the tournament with a "hard-fought" eight-point win over West Island College out of Calgary.

In the second round, they faced off with Strathmore, the top-ranked 3A girls' team in Alberta. Hicks said the Thunderbirds had a good first half and were only down by four points going into the second half, but unfortunately they couldn't sustain that momentum.

"We definitely slowed down in the second half ... losing by 25 in the end," he added.

Pushed into the consolation side fo the tournament, R.F. Staples next played Wetaskiwin, who they defeated handily by a score of 56-24.

That put the T-Birds in the consolation final against HJ Cody out of Sylvan Lake, the No. 6 team in the province. Hicks said they battled hard and pulled out a 65-57 win to ultimately place fifth in Alberta.

Looking to the future, Hicks said they have four girls who are graduating this year who are going to be very hard to replace.

"They have been with me for quite a while now, and are a major part of our offence," he said.

That said, Hicks said they have six girls returning next year and a very strong group that is coming up behind them, including some of the girls off of the junior varsity team and some very strong Grade 9 students that will be in Grade 10 next season.

"I think that the program will be fairly solid here for the next few years," he said.

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