Epoch and Team Sask open basketball tournament with win at Canada Games
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Libby Epoch from Peacock, left, drives to the basket and scores despite the attempted block from Madison Oystrick of Meadow Lake Carpenter.
Libby Epoch has always been able to excel at whatever sport she put her mind to.
The question was, which sport would she ultimately choose to pursue.
The 15-year-old Peacock student is still excelling in several areas, but as she helped lead Saskatchewan’s provincial women’s basketball team to a 78-70 win over Manitoba at the Canada Games Monday, she said her heart lies on the court.
“Basketball is definitely my favourite sport,” said Epoch from the Games in Sherbrooke, Que.
Epoch is the youngest member of the provincial team, but she came off the bench to score 11 points in the win. She added three steals and three assists and played nearly 22 minutes.
“I want to take in the experience and play to the best of my abilities,” said Epoch. “It’s just fun being here.”
The five-foot-five point guard is used to starting, but she said she’s comfortable coming off the bench and is used to being the youngest player on the provincial team.
“They make you better and they’re fun to be around,” said Epoch of her Team Sask teammates. She is in her third year with the provincial team program and felt it has really helped her game.
“The competition is a lot better and they work you harder than girls your own age,” she added.
Epoch is definitely not afraid of some hard work.
She gained attention in 2005 when she broke the provincial Pee Wee 333-metre short track speed skating record. She was six. A year later she set four provincial short track records at the Western Canadian championships.
Somewhere on her trophy shelf is a pair of squirt softball ‘B’ provincial championship medals, plus the awards she won as a competitive swimmer with the Moose Jaw Flying Fins.
She has since hung up her skates, but still tries to cram as many sports into her calendar as humanly possible.
Last year as a Grade 9 at Peacock Epoch finished second in the province in cross country running. She was eighth at the SHSAA track provincials in the 1,500m and fourth in the 3,000m.
She has been part of the Element volleyball program for two years and went to the Western championships with the U15 Element Panthers. She also played with the Peacock senior girls volleyball team as well.
Epoch was first at Bantam districts in badminton in girls’ singles.
“Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but I do find time for myself,” said Epoch who said she still manages to have a social life outside of sports. “This summer I’ve been hanging out with friends a lot. We practice on the weekends and the tournaments have only been for four or five days, so it hasn’t been that busy.”
This past year, she was also the starting point guard on the Toilers senior girls basketball team that put together a spectacular season before losing the Hoopla provincial final 72-69 to Meadow Lake Carpenter.
In the Hoopla provincial final, Epoch got the responsibility of trying to hit the final three-point shot to force overtime against Meadow Lake. The shot hit the rim and bounced out.
“I like having (that last shot). If you make it you have more confidence in yourself and if you miss it, you have that much more drive to make it the next time,” said Epoch. “I just let it go and I prayed for the best.
“It’s always kind of in the back of my mind, but you have to move on. You have to play your best in the next game.”
Saskatchewan is off to a good start at the Games. They had played Manitoba three times in pre-tournament games and lost two of them. They trailed by six points at the half Monday, but out-scored Manitoba 16-7 in the final five minutes of the third quarter to take the lead for good.
They will play Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia Tuesday to conclude group play. A pair of wins would set them up well to earn a medal.
“Our goal is to do better than any Saskatchewan team has ever done. The best they’ve ever done is second, so we want to bring home gold,” said Epoch.
“We’re just going game by game right now.”
* * * *
Elsewhere at the Games, Moose Jaw’s Carl Paulhaus advanced to Thursday’s B final in the 100-metre men’s Special Olympics sprint. He ran the 100m in a time of 14.78 seconds in his heat Tuesday.