This isn’t new territory for the Caronport Cougars girls’ basketball team. In fact, they have been to the provincial basketball tournament, Hoopla, for three years in a row, including this season.
The last two seasons, the Cougars have come home with the bronze medal and would be happy to add another medal to their collection.
“Bronze is realistic and anything above that we will just be overjoyed,” said Cougars’ head Leigh Wolverton. “We will be happy with bronze.”
The Cougars are the fourth seed heading into the 3A classification provincial finals and will face the number one seed, Lumsden in their opening match on Friday evening in Saskatoon at Evan Hardy. That’s if they can get there, of course. With the roads still closed or travel not recommended, the Cougars are currently stuck in Caronport. They are hoping the travel ban will be lifted by late Thursday evening or early Friday in order to get to Saskatoon.
“That is the question, getting up there,” said Wolverton.
Caronport has not yet seen Lumsden this season, but will bring their best effort and try to adjust to what the Angels bring offensively and defensively.
“We have not seen them this year. We played them four times last year, but not this year. We have an idea of what we are up against. They are a very good team and they are No. 1 for a good reason,” said Wolverton. “We are taking some steps to see what we can do prepare ourselves, but it is going to be a definite challenge for us to play them.”
The Cougars lost to Vanier in the semifinal of the Moose Jaw high school basketball league and lacked some confidence in many areas of their game. However, Wolverton was hopeful that the team would regain that confidence in regional play and he feels the team is more determined and ready for Hoopla.
“We do have confidence…the last two weeks have been really good for us. After the Vanier game, the girls have really turned a corner and our games since then have been very positive. We did change up the offence and in the way we prepare for games…emotionally and getting themselves a lot better prepared,” he explained. “We just weren’t ready in that Vanier game and we just came out flat.”
Playing the bigger schools in the Moose Jaw league also helped the Cougars in preparing for the 3A division and made them a better team.
“They helped raise the level of competition that we have to play against. We are so thankful for that,” said Wolverton. “Being in the Moose Jaw league is definitely a plus for us and it raises our level of play, for sure.”
Since the Cougars have four Grade 12s and five of the girls were on the team last year when they went to Hoopla, they have explained the experience to the other players.
“Four of the starters were at Hoopla last year and so they were able to explain to the girls the preparation, intensity and talking about what Hoopla is like. That has been a big factor for us,” stated Wolverton. “The girls are excited to just be involved in Hoopla and it is a big deal for them to make it that far. We are just going to go there and enjoy the tournament and the challenge to see what we can do there. There are four very good teams at Hoopla in the 3A level.”
If the Cougars make it to the final or bronze medal game, they will either face Indian Head or Clavet.