WESTLOCK – R.F. Staples School’s (RFS) senior girls basketball team showed why they’re one of the favourites to claim the 3A North Central Zone title next month, scoring a dramatic, single-point win over Grande Prairie’s Glenmary School Saints in the Saturday-night final of their home tournament.
Eight teams converged on RFS for the Feb. 24-25 event with the T-Birds opening with a 46-34 Friday-afternoon win over the John Maland Wildcats, while on Saturday morning the girls ground out a 52-44 victory over the Parkland Composite High School Pacers to set up the final versus the Saints, who were also 2-0 with wins over Barrhead and Parkland Immanuel.
Coach Wade Hicks said although the final was tight, the T-Birds held a four-point advantage into the final minute with a three-pointer from the Saints with only a second left “we literally backed off and let them shoot” made the final 42-41.
Hicks said it was a gratifying weekend for the club after falling in the final of last year’s RFS tournament and is their first home title in the four years he’s been head coach. In December, the girls also won the Louis St. Laurent Catholic School Tournament, a victory that included a 70-68 OT win over Lloydminister’s Holy Rosary in the semifinal and a 14-point victory over zone rival Morinville in the final.
“We played really well throughout and were up probably 90 per cent of the game. Glenmary is good and they kept battling back, but we didn’t give them a whole lot and really controlled the game. It was pretty nice to be able to come together and get the win at home as this was the first time for me as a coach here,” said Hicks.
The T-Birds have this coming weekend off, then will head to Whitecourt March 10-11 for the zone championships when they’ll look to sweep the field and punch their ticket to provincials. Last year the club had an exceptional campaign and were ranked in the Top 10 in Alberta, but came up two points short in the zone final.
“This result is exactly what we wanted. We’ve been struggling putting three wins together in tournaments since the Louis win as we play really well for two games and then for one we don’t. So, it was really nice to put three games together before we go to our zone tournament,” he added.