WESTLOCK – For a second-straight year St. Mary School’s (SMS) senior boys basketball team are the 1A North Central Zone champions and have now set their sights on playing for a provincial title this coming weekend in Coaldale.
At the zone championship in Breton March 10-11, the Sharks were supremely dominant, doubling the eighth-ranked St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy Falcons 107-50 in the opener, then marched over the fourth-ranked New Sarepta Community High School Saints 71-57 in the semifinal.
In the Saturday-night final, the Sharks dropped the third-ranked Neerlandia Covenant Canadian Reformed School Stingerz 60-41 to claim the zone banner, which is the fourth for the boys in the past 30-plus years, while last year’s zone title was the first for SMS since 1996.
First-year head coach Ty Snell characterized the semi and final as “hard fought games” that were probably “closer than what we would have liked.” On a personal note, Snell’s son Harrison turned three years old the same day of the zone tournament, so his party had to wait until Sunday.
“The boys should be very proud of their efforts so far this season and how they played in this tournament. They played some great lockdown defence and shutdown some very skilled players,” said Snell only a handful of hours after their zone triumph.
“I think we learned a lot this weekend and had some good battles and we’ll be taking all of that with us to provincials for sure.”
Now looking forward to the 1A Alberta Schools' Athletic Association 1A Boys Basketball Championship in Coaldale March 16-18, Snell said they’ll need to take their game to a whole new level as last year the club went 0-3 at the championships. The Sharks, who head into the provincials as the seventh-ranked team in Alberta, hit the road Wednesday to make the long trip down south, with their first game action slated for Thursday.
“We know it’s going to be a dogfight every single game we play this coming weekend. We’ve seen a few of the teams already and had some close battles with them, so we’re excited to take our game to the next level,” said Snell.
“A lot of the guys got a taste of it last year and they know what we need to do to succeed at that level, so we’re not coming in as rookies. They saw the level of ball that was played and I think they’re ready to take on that challenge and hopefully come out with a couple of wins. We know we’re going to be ranked right in the middle of the pack, so it’s going to be a battle for sure.”