After a couple of close games, the Donalda School Girls Basketball team has taken the Central West Alberta Junior High Schools Athletic Association (CWAJHAA) title, the first in the team’s history, for the 2023 season after a final tournament in Rocky Mountain House.
According to coach Julie Siemens, the team had no idea how they would do going into the tournament; however, after a successful season where the team and no losses and only two ties, there was reason for optimism.
That optimism translated into winning the Clearview Athletic and Recreation Association (CARA) title for the season.
“That’s an accomplishment in itself,” said Siemens.
“We’re a small school compared to the others.”
Playing in the CWAJHAA finals tournament over March 10 and 11, Donalda’s first competition was Eckville, who was “quite handedly” beaten by the Donalda team.
However, the semi-finals proved to be more of a challenge.
According to Siemens, the semi-final game had the team tip-off against Spruce View in what turned out to be a “hard fought battle” with Donalda winning by a mere eight points.
But, the team did win, and they were off to the finals against Mecca Glen School. Siemens says that Mecca Glen is historically known for its basketball program and she knew going in it would be a tough game.
Complicating matters was the team composition; Mecca Glen’s team consisted of three Grade 8 students and six Grade 9 students whereas Donalda’s team consisted of one Grade 6, three Grade 7, and three Grade 9 students.
Siemens said that she kept waiting for Mecca Glen to take off with the scoring; however, “our girls responded, never letting them get the lead.”
While the Boys Basketball program once won the banner all the way back in 1987, this is a first for the girls program.
Making things extra special for Siemens, she began coaching most of the girls when they were in Grade 4, before she moved to coaching Junior High; she has been coaching most of them for the last six years.
“They’re a pretty special group to me.”