The Senior Girls basketball team at Ecole H.J. Cody High School finished the season on a high with a spot in the provincial tournament.
However, the next day, the Lakers found out the tournament was cancelled, as a precaution to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Peter Saik, the Lakers head coach, said he was “unbelievably proud” of the girls, not only for an impressive season, but also how they handled the news that their season came to an unexpected end.
“They were very mature when they found out. It was a little emotional, especially for our Grade 12s, but they were very mature about it,” said Saik.
“They knew that there was basketball and then there is life, and as much work as we put into our game this year, life was more important.”
The Senior Girls Lakers finished the season in second place in the league, just behind Wetaskiwin who was ranked first in the province.
Had the team moved on to Provincials they would have entered the tournament in seventh place.
On March 12, the basketball team had home court advantage in a wild card game, the winner of which would have moved on to fight for the provincial championship.
“We didn’t find out until the next morning that Provincials had been cancelled, everything was so up in the air before and during the game,” Saik said.
The Lakers gave it their all in the wild card game, and took it into overtime when in the final seconds of the fourth quarter the game became tied at 70-70.
Early in the overtime period the Lakers fell behind by four points as Camrose quickly took control of the ball.
“We called a time out and I told the girls to calm down and that we were in a good position and we will be alright. After that they went out and fought hard,” Saik said.
The Lakers regrouped after an early time out and went on to win by four points.
Two Grade 12 starters fouled out in the fourth quarter and two Grade 10s came in to take their place at the last minute.
“We had two Grade 10s come in and play, and they hadn’t seen a lot of court time this season, but they came out in this important game and played their best game of the season,” said Saik.
Grade 12 starter Sadie Jefferies led the team both on and off the court. She scored 26 points for the Lakers to take the lead and ultimately win.
Saik says he is proud of the team and all they accomplished throughout the season.
He said he expected the team to be a rebuilding year, as last season eight players graduated. However, the team surprised him and worked hard and finished really well in the 2019-2020 season.
“We have a group of really special girls. They really bought into the system we were running and worked hard all season. I am so proud and humbled by them,” said Saik.