After a heartbreaking loss in the Hoopla final last year, the Central Cyclones are looking for a different result.
"We don't want to make that mistake again of going in soft. We are going to make it count," said senior Bretton Konihowski.
The Cyclones are seeded second overall and will face Regina O'Neill on Friday in Saskatoon for their first game at Hoopla. They are a team they haven't yet faced this season.
"We are happy with that (seeding) and happy that we get O'Neill. We haven't seen them yet, however," said Cyclones coach Leigh Pethick. "I've talked to a coach that played them last weekend and he gave me a couple little things and what their strengths are. Other than that, we just plan for everything and the guys will have to adjust."
Pethick also pointed out that O'Neill is in the same position they are in and are only going off what other teams have said about the Cyclones. However, Pethick knows how deep his team is.
"We can go 10 deep if we want to. Our bench has been performing well all season and it is not much of a drop off," he said. "We have three guards that can shoot the ball at all times and we have posts that can score as well. It all depends on what defence they are playing and what they are trying to take away."
With the loss in the final to North Battleford in last year's final still in their minds, the Cyclones are focusing on playing hard defence and running the ball.
"Half of this team was there last year. They know how the season ended and they were disappointed. Hopefully those Grade 12s are focused to do everything they can do, but the chips will fall where they may," said Pethick. “Our game is always based on defence. If they pressure the ball, our plan is to wear them out as much as possible. Hopefully, that will pay dividends in the third and fourth quarter. We want to run the ball as much as we can.”
Over the weekend, the Cyclones got a good test at regionals, especially in their final win over Marion Graham.
"It is good to have those nerves in the first and second quarter. We have to play our best to win and we won't get any easy games at Hoopla," stated Pethick. "It doesn't matter if they score is by 25 points…those aren't easy 25 points. It is always nice to have the guys playing well at the end of the season."
The Cyclones will be looking to improve their record from 24-3 to 26-3 after this weekend, as well as bringing home a provincial title.
For Konihowski, as one of six graduating players, he is relishing the moment of being at another Hoopla event.
"We are happy to be here and we just don't want to pass up this opportunity," he said. "It means a lot. It is going to be the last basketball game we play in high school. It is kind of disappointing, but at the same time, exciting."
The Cyclones will open provincials against Regina O'Neill on Friday evening and will either play Prince Albert St. Mary or Yorkton Regional.