MHSAA Girls’ Basketball Preview

March 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Provincial and Territorial News







Bawlf to host hoops provincials

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

Bawlf Wildcats captain Demi Vermeer leads the No. 2 ranked senior girls basketball 1A team into provincials next weekend in Bawlf.

Bawlf Wildcats captain Demi Vermeer leads the No. 2 ranked senior girls basketball 1A team into provincials next weekend in Bawlf.

It has been a long time since the Bawlf School has hosted a provincial basketball tournament, but the Wildcats are primed to be more than just a doormat next weekend.

The Wildcats are the No. 2 ranked senior girls 1A basketball team in the province entering the zone tournament in Eckville this weekend. They had an undefeated regular season this year, won two tournaments, finished second at two more and also collected a bronze and a fourth place along the way. Overall, they posted a 23-5 record but are eying a perfect run as they look to finally win a provincial gold at the March 16-18 championship.

“With basketball games, if you lose one and you play bad in one game it’s over, and the competition is pretty stiff,” said Wildcats coach Robert Longhurst. “The hope is that we finish in the top group but we’re going to have to play some pretty darn good basketball to make that happen.”

The 1A level pits the best of the high schools with a population of 100 or fewer students against each other.

Bawlf’s biggest hurdle to the top of the podium is Stirling. The community of 924 has put together an almost unbeatable powerhouse in girls hoops, winning the last four provincial titles while showing no drop off this season, carrying the No. 1 ranking through the entire campaign. Two years ago the Wildcats lost in the semifinal to Stirling and then were beat handily in the provincial final last year by the Lakers, but Bawlf believes they have closed the gap.

“We worked hard to find the deficiencies in our game to give them a better game if we can get to the final,” said Longhurst. “We’re going to have to play the game of our lives. If we play the game like we can, play strong with an intense defence like we have all season and then offensively keep calm and make our shots when they’re there and not miss the easy ones underneath the hoop, then we’ll have a shot at it.”

The Wildcats, however cannot look too far down the tournament draw. They will have their hands full with any of the 12 teams at the championship, including No. 3 ranked Parkland Immanuel Christian School out of Edmonton, Grand Trunk School out of Evansburg, and Erle Rivers School out of Milk River.

“That’s my job to make sure that we do not look at Stirling until we are actually playing them,” said Longhurst.

The Wildcats have been building this program for the past four years under Longhurst, as he started coaching many of them when they were in Grade 8. The last two years they have been just a step behind Stirling as far as provincial powers go, earning one silver medal and one bronze at the championship tournament.

They are made up of three Grade 12s, four Grade 11s and three Grade 10s, with balanced scoring throughout the starting line up.

“We’ve been together since Grade 7 so we know how we play together, the starting five has been playing together forever, so we click well. But there are good girls coming up, I think our program should be strong for the next few years,” said Grade 12 forward Demi Vermeer.

Vermeer is the unquestioned leader of the group. She is their tallest player, but arguably their most athletic as well — she plans to play soccer next year for the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings — making her tough to stop down low.

“She’s been playing on the starting line for three years, and that’s part of the reason the team is so good, I still have six players who are still playing from two years ago when we won our first medal,” said Longhurst.

As big as this tournament is for the players, it’s just as big for the village of 422, who last hosted a provincial volleyball tournament about 10 years ago. Longhurst was not sure if they had ever hosted a provincial basketball tournament. The students just recently moved into a new facility with a full-size gym, an upgrade that has allowed them to be in the conversation for provincial hosting duties.

“It’s a pretty big deal because the community is not very big and we’re going to have 12 teams from all over the province plus all of their coaches and parents show up on a weekend, so it’s a pretty big deal,” said Longhurst.

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