It was the ultimate season for a local basketball squad.
The St. Augustine junior high Kings boys basketball team completed its undefeated season by finishing off as the champs of the 2J Central West Alberta Junior High Athletic Association (CWAJHAA) tournament earlier this month in Sylvan Lake.
The Kings won against Red Deer’s Camille J. Lerouge Catholic School in the final 66-48 to earn the club’s third straight CWAJHAA crown and second in a row under head coach Brandon Bishop.
In the club’s three tournament games, including the final, the Kings executed everything the players learned during the season and followed Bishop’s plan to exacting standards.
“The boys executed exactly what we’ve been practicing all year — heart, confidence and strong stingy defence to compliment an energetic explosive offence,” he said.
“A big key to our early tournament success was the way we played defensively and new designed ball possession strategies we tightened up on in late season practices.”
The Kings got past the host club in the opening game in a slow paced contest that allowed Bishop to use his entire bench, a tactic that came in handy for the physical second game the same night against Rimbey.
In the final, the Kings had to switch its game plan somewhat to limit the counter-attack offence of Camille Lerouge.
“We knew they would take advantage of any missed baskets. Camille would get down the court quickly, which made us utilize our strong, quick defence to create turnovers and retain ball possession for our dynamic offence,” Bishop added.
“It helped that all 12 young men were ready to play when called upon, excited to learn and improve everyday with no chips on anyone’s shoulders. They helped and pushed each other and laughed with each other. We all had tremendous confidence in each other and what I was coaching plus with the team unity, it was easy for all the players to hold each other accountable.”
With just three returning players, Bishop needed that unity and trust in his coaching in order to reach that ultimate goal of going undefeated and earning that third championship.
“You can never know what dynamics will be, but seeing these boys smile and give 100 per cent from the get go, I knew it was going to be a successful year,” he said.
“Accomplishing this feat took a great deal of work and fun, as you could see the boys thrive with the smiles, high fives and laughter on and not on game days. I don’t know who enjoyed it more — myself, the players or the fans or secretly the school staff. Along the same note, it’s a toss up who will miss this ride more.”