The Peacock Toilers have been nearly perfect this season.
If they want a perfect ending at Hoopla this weekend, they will have to avenge the only blemish on their record.
Early in the season at a tournament in Prince Albert, the Toilers were handed their only loss at the hands of North Battleford Comp. On Friday, the team will look to earn some sweet revenge, as they play the fourth-seeded Vikings in their opening match at Hoopla.
“They are the only team to have ever beat us. They beat us at our very first tournament and our third game of the season in the final,” said Toilers coach Renee Verge. “We were without some players, so we look a lot different now than we did back then. These girls want to win that first game, for sure. They want to get into that final.”
The Toilers are the top ranked team in the province and will travel to Saskatoon for two of their biggest games this season. For senior, Amy Hughes, this time of the season is bittersweet.
“I’m happy and excited, but at the same time, it is sad because it is the end of my last season,” she said. “There are some nerves, but it is a great place to be in because you get so pumped up.”
The team has been busy this week preparing for their opponents — they could face either Notre Dame or Meadow Lake in the final if they beat the Vikings. For Verge and the coaching staff, it is about putting a plan in place, but not deterring from what made them so successful this season.
“This week, we sat down as a team and talked about how we can’t change what we are doing. Obviously, what we are doing is working for us and it is important that we don’t change what we do,” she stated. “We are trying to put a good game plan in place for our opponent and it is really important you don’t look past your first opponent. Everything we are doing right now is just getting ready for North Battleford.”
The Vikings have some good weapons, including a point guard that likes to shoot threes, a post that is tall and another post that likes to drive the lane and shoot threes. Those were just some of the components they focused on in practice.
“It is good to be able to pinpoint the other teams’ weaknesses and strengths. It gives us time to do the X and Os,” said Hughes.
The Toilers finished fourth last season at Hoopla and are hoping for a much different outcome this year. With about half of the team back, the Toilers are a confident bunch despite a possible target on their backs.
“It is like we have a target on our back and everyone is wanting to take us down. Every game is going to be a challenge,” stated Hughes. “This weekend is absolutely huge and we feel confident, but we have stayed away from being cocky because that just makes the target on your back even bigger.”
The team is also hoping to get a fan bus to bring some orange and green support to Saskatoon for their Saturday match.