Lakers miss out on provincials as its season ends at zones
Monday, Mar 20, 2017 06:00 am
One year after winning the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association (ASAA) 3A Provincial Championship, the Chestermere Lakers senior boys basketball team will not repeat as champs after failing to qualify for provincials this year.
With just three teams competing for one berth to 4A provincials, the Lakers needed to string together a pair of wins over Holy Trinity Academy Knights and the Foothills Composite Falcons. However it failed in both its games, missing out on a chance in the ASAA 4A South Central Zone Finals – and in turn, its chance at provincials.
“It’s a disappointing feeling, especially for those graduating players,” head coach Mitch Turgeon said. “Seeing the season end for them is always difficult.
“Even if they play competitive basketball after this, it’s never the same.”
Due to the number of students that attend Chestermere High School, the Lakers were required to move from the 3A division to 4A this season, putting the team in with a new crop of teams as opposed to the teams it took on in the South Central Zones last season.
Facing a new group of teams with the Lakers this year, Turgeon said there wasn’t a lot of pressure going up against teams from Okotoks, but said it was a realization for the Lakers program that the level of competition and commitment to excellence increased.
“For the Grade 12s that won last year, having the success level drop was difficult to take,” Turgeon said.
In zones, the Lakers dropped its tournament opener against the Knights 75-66 on March 7 and found itself needing to knock off the eventual Zone Champs (Foothills) in its next game. Unfortunately, the Lakers couldn’t do that and fell in back-to-back games.
Turgeon added the team had to win its game against Holy Trinity if it had any shot of making it out of zones, and said the chance of beating the Falcons twice in one tournament was highly unlikely.
At the start of the season, the Lakers appeared to be a team that needed to regroup after dropping its Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) season-opener 84-51 to the George McDougall Mustangs Dec. 6.
After that loss, the Lakers rattled off five-straight wins in RVSA action to finish second in the regular season with a 5-1 record. The Lakers then won its quarterfinal and semifinal matchups to set up a rematch with the Mustangs in the RVSA finals March 4.
The Lakers played confidently and kept the game close, frustrating the Mustangs, but couldn’t quite come up with the win in the finals, losing 87-74.
“It hurt. (Our guys) expected to win and put that banner on the wall again,” Turgeon said. “Coming up short like that, it sucks.”
Although the season did end in disappointment for the Lakers, Turgeon said his team would be able to take away positives from this season in preparation of the 2017-18 basketball season this fall.
“They learned that the later you get in the season, the more the small details matter,” Turgeon said. “There were moments in our later games where if we had a better two or three minute stretch and maintain our focus and energy, those games could have been different.
“Those moments matter later in the season and playing better competition at the highest of stakes.”