Basketball team takes silver at Summer Games
The path to the finals was an exciting one and at the end of it the Big Country basketball team came home from the 2012 Alberta Summer Games with a silver medal. The team was defeated 92-62 in the gold medal final by Calgary Zone 3, which was held in Lethbridge July 25 to 29.
“It went really, really well,” said Head Coach Ron Davies. “The kids came out fighting and played amazingly well. (Calgary) got us in the end, but I’m really proud of the kids.”
Big Country opened the tournament on a strong note, winning back-to-back games against the Parkland and Sunny South zones. However, the team ran into trouble in its third round robin game when it lost to Calgary 81-52.
The semi-final proved to be the most exciting game of the tournament for Big Country. The game came down to the wire, but the team was able to hang on for a 57-56 win against the Black Gold/Yellowhead zone. The score was tied at 54 with a minute left in the fourth quarter when Airdrie’s Cole Albersworth nailed a three-pointer to give Big Country the lead.
Black Gold rebounded with an apparent three-pointer of its own, but the shot was downgraded to two points after the player stepped inbounds.
Big Country’s Danny Davies was fouled with 14 seconds left, but missed both. The team came back down on the court and hit one last three-pointer to seal the win.
“That was a highlight,” Davies said. “It was crazy and controversial and exciting. The atmosphere in the gym was amazing. I’ve been coaching for 11 years and it was one of the best I’ve ever been in. It was crazy loud the whole game and it was great to see.”
Although Big Country went on to lose in the final against Calgary, Davies said he was proud of the team, adding three players, Logan Hyman and Albersworth, both of Airdrie, and Jake Nielson of Cochrane, emerged as leaders during the tournament.
“Logan is 6’5” so he was a force for us and Cole was really great,” Davies said. “Jake was our leader and probably the best player on our team.”
For Davies, who is the athletic director at Hanna High School, the Summer Games were an opportunity to coach at a higher level and for the players it was a chance to play at that level.
“We had five rural kids, so it was a great opportunity for them,” he said. “They don’t get an opportunity to play club basketball. It was a great chance for the kids to meet other people and make new friends. We had a great group of boys. They were extremely mature and we had a great time together.”
Davies also had a difficult task heading into the Games. He had to narrow a group of 30 players who tried out in May down to 12. To help build the team chemistry in two months, he hosted a week-long camp in Hanna that featured instruction from Dan Vanhooren, the head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos basketball team. Vanhooren helped implement team strategy and motivated the players.
“I think they also learned how to sacrifice for the team. The kids from the rural areas are all-stars on their school teams, but they came to this team and they were role players,” he said.
“We didn’t have a superstar and we really played like a team.”