RETURNING PLAYER - Virnise Castro returned to the Aces after suffering an early-season injury.

Aces miss out on provincials

The senior girls Aces basketball team had two shots at going to the 1A Provincial Championships falling just short.

The senior girls Aces basketball team had two shots at going to the 1A Provincial Championships falling just short.

“We had a really good weekend,” Coach Cody Magneson said. “We started off with New Norway. We were the third ranked team and they were the sixth ranked team.

“They came out ready to battle. They had a lot of tall girls. They were really scrappy but the girls played really well. We ended up beating them, which gave us two shots to go to provincials.”

The first shot of those two came against the eighth seeded Viking. The Aces played hard all game with the score never being more than five points a part. The Aces were forced to play the final stretch of the game without their key cogs Delaini Gillett and Casey Belway, after both players were out of the game due to foul trouble. With only one Grade 11 on the court, the game came down to one final play which saw Viking hit a buzzer beater to steal the win from Eckville in heart breaking fashion.

“It was hectic and we didn’t have any veterans on the floor,” Magneson said. “We had one Grade 11 guard and everyone else was pretty young. It was a scramble play. They got the ball and put it up at the last second. It wasn’t a good looking shot but it happened to go in.”

Despite the buzzer beater, the experience will be valuable for next year’s returning players.

“Being in close games is something you can’t teach in practice,” Magneson said. “You have to experience it in a game. Of course I would rather them experience provincials but it will go a long way in them learning how to deal with pressure.”

The Aces had very little time to absorb the tough loss as they had to play the third placed game against Hay Lakes only shortly after the Viking loss.

“It’s hard to get your head back in it after that,” Magneson said. “We played Hay Lakes in a rubber match. The girls came out strong and we went up 21-11 early on them and led most of the game. They put on a press and we got flustered. They ended up beating us by six in the end.”

The loss put the Aces outside the provincial playoff picture, which was a tough pill to swallow particularly for one Grade 12 player, Delaini Gillett.

“I know Delaini wanted provincials the most out of everyone,” Magneson said. “But we need to realize how far we came this year. This is only the second time going to zones and this year we competed even though we only had one Grade 12 girl. We have a bright future ahead of us.”

For Magneson, watching his team experience success was a fantastic experience.

“These girls are amazing,” he said. “They love the game and whatever I requested, they would do. They worked hard and worked in the off season.”

Magneson was very pleased with the support from Eckville residents at zones.

“I have to thank the community, they came out and it was amazing,” he said. “I have never heard our gym that loud.”

reporter@eckvilleecho.com