Peacock near-perfect in pair of semifinal wins

Matthew Gourlie
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Perfection is a nearly impossible ideal in sports.

Peacock's basketball teams looked like they were trying to chase it anyway Tuesday.

Both Peacock teams are unbeaten in league play, but they took their play to another level in the league semifinals. The Peacock girls opened the night with a 93-32 win over Vanier. The Toilers boys beat Caronport 114-11 in the other semifinal.

Caronport will play Central in the other girls semifinal tonight and Vanier will also travel to Central in the boys semifinal.

Peacock 93 Vanier 32

The Toilers took a 35-0 lead after a quarter as they put together possibly their best 10 minutes of the season.

"What an unbelievable start to our game tonight," said Peacock coach Renee Verge. "They put everything we've worked on into that first quarter. We are exactly where we want be right now."

The Toilers will host a 4A regional this weekend and will need to win both games to advance to the Hoopla provincial tournament.

"We have huge games coming up for us this weekend. We can't really look at the City Final right now," said Verge. "They set personal goals for themselves — what do they need to do tonight, to make us better for their games this weekend? I think they accomplished that.

"I turned to everybody and said 'can we please play like this for the next five games?'" added Verge. "We did a lot of things right tonight."

It was hard to imagine what they did wrong as they put together an impressive 40-minute performance that saw nine different players score.

 Macaela Crone led the Toilers with 28 points, while Libby Epoch added 19. Alia Baigent scored dozen off the bench and Ceanna Bruce added nine more.

It was a hard way for the Spirits to end their season. They were under no illusions heading into the semifinal and coach Bob Gottselig was proud of his team.

"In terms of wins and losses this wasn't the season that we wanted, but I was proud of them in terms of the effort they made all year to keep coming to practice and to keep getting better," said Gottselig. "The scoreboard didn't reflect it today, again, but the girls got better. That was a much better team on the court in March than it was in December. That's what it's all about — working hard to improve. Those are the life lessons."

As the basketball season drew to a close, Gottselig felt his players grew as people and as basketball players.

"It's not all about the wins and losses," he said. "Not many of us have walked away from the end of the season with a championship, yet we always still continue to play the game. We play it for the love of it and we play to learn how to work together and I think we learned those things."

The Spirits will have nine returning players and Gottselig is confident they will be farther ahead at the start of next season than they were at the start of this season.

Mackenzie Johnson led Vanier with eight points in the loss.

Peacock 114 Caronport 11

Caronport made one basket in each of the first three quarters as the Peacock defence dominated.

"I think we've stepped it up a notch since the North Battleford tournament. The kids are buying-in defensively and doing what they're supposed to be doing. It's taken four months, but we're playing a little better basketball now," said Peacock coach Bryan Adams.

"We shot the ball well tonight. We played good defence and moved our feet. We did a lot of good things team-wise."

While Nolan Thoroughgood remains out with an elbow injury, Levi Paul returned to the floor.

"We're getting some kids back who are hurt, so we're going even a little deeper than we have been in the last three weeks," said Adams.

Spencer Barrett led the Toilers with 17 points, while Ryan Beattie added 16, Ryder Epoch had 15, Eric Forbes 14 and Braeden Crone 13.

Peacock will play Estevan Friday when they host the 4A regionals. The winner will meet either Swift Current or Meadow Lake Carpenter in the regional final.

The Cougars are headed to 2A regionals this weekend in Birch Hills. A heavy loss wasn't the ideal preparation, but Cougars coach George Willatt saw a few things he liked in a tough night.

"Peacock did run a bit of a trapping zone and at times on the side or in the corner we got trapped and turned the ball over," said Willatt. "We've been working on some systems fairly recently against the zone and at times I thought we ran those well. They didn't always result in a basket, there was some good ball movement and some good scoring opportunities at times."

The Cougars were missing leading scorer Aaron Adrian Tuesday due to the flu and will hope to have hime back for regionals. They open against Thunderchild Friday and then will play either Birch Hills or Twin Rivers if they win.

"We're going to have minimize our turnovers and score better than we did tonight," said Willatt.

Geographic location: Caronport, Birch Hills, North Battleford Swift Current Meadow Lake Twin Rivers

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