By CHARLES TWEED
There’s a lot of work that goes into the planning and organizing of a high school basketball tournament. Booking teams, setting up the draw, finding referees and scorekeepers, unfortunately the one thing you can’t plan for is weather.
A storm on Friday forced some teams to re-evaluate their travel plans to Ponoka for the annual Swoosh tournament, leaving organizers with less than the desired number of teams. The junior varsity team was planning on going to Lacombe for a tournament, but roads forced them to stay home, where they became a late fill-in for the first game.
Usually anytime you have ‘Broncs’ on the front of your jersey in the Ponoka Composite High School gym you’re a good bet to be the home team; but not on Friday as the junior team got a first-hand look at the senior Broncs.
“It’s always interesting playing the younger girls because you know they’re going to come out hard because they want to try to beat the senior team, and you know for my girls, it’s a gut check because they’re supposed to win,” said Jody McElroy, coach of the senior girls.
The score at half put the senior girls up 32-18, when both coaches decided to stop the game, after it was made known Rocky Mountain House had pulled out of the tournament, meaning one of the teams would have to play again shortly.
Leading the way for the senior team was Jacee DeVries who went 4 for 5 from the floor and made both her attempts from the line for a total of 10 points. Danielle Davies also contributed with eight first half points, with six of her eight points coming from behind the arc.
The junior girls had good push back from Amy Lank, who led her squad with seven points and Danni Richardson, who shot 100 per cent from the floor, good for five points.
The big problem the junior girls faced was when the senior Broncs played their pressure defense, forcing the less experienced team into some bad situations.
“It’s about making the right decision with the ball and that comes with time and experience. But I thought they handled themselves well with the pressure they had considering they haven’t seen that before,” said Anthony Goodwin, who works at the hospital but volunteers his time to coach the junior girls basketball program.
The tournament wrapped up on Saturday with Memorial Composite High School from Stony Plain defeating Holy Redeemer from Edson in the final 59-45.
The Ponoka Broncs finished strong, beating St. Joseph’s High School from Edmonton to finish third — a good win considering St. Joe’s beat Ponoka the previous weekend in Grande Prairie.
The Broncs had three players named to the allstar team. Sarah Davis, Jacee Devries and Jenica Krause all picked up some hardware. While the junior team filled in admirably on short notice, gaining some valuable experience and receiving one all-star nomination from Maddi Czapp.
All in all, the tournament was a huge success as the challenges faced by the storm really pulled the teams, coaches and parent groups together. A number of teams commented on how well the tournament was run, a real credit to the volunteers and parents of the girls playing.