Racette sweeps junior banners, for second year in row
Tuesday, Mar 07, 2017 04:15 pm
After slow starts on the girls and boys side, Racette asserted itself during junior SPAA basketball finals last Thursday evening, with the girls defeating Kihew Asiniy at home and the boys defeating the F. G. Miller Crusaders to claim both banners as they did last year as well.
“Obviously we’re ecstatic, and especially to go undefeated – that doesn’t happen too often in a league,” said girls’ coach Katie Gerlinsky, adding in fact, her girls’ team never lost in league or tournament play this year. “I’ve never had a team that has done this well.”
However, she gave credit to the Kihew Asiniy Chargers for the “heart and intensity” they brought to the final match-up. The two teams had faced each other just the week before, but during last Thursday’s game, the Chargers came in with a new mindset and hustle, keeping things interesting.
“They came ready to win,” she said, adding that energy made for a good final matchup.
The Chargers kept it close in the first quarter, with the score at 8 – 9, but over the next three quarters, Racette capitalized on their rebounding and forced a number of turnovers to pull away, closing the half at 26 – 15, and eventually putting the game away at 61 – 25.
A large-sized crowd of Saddle Lake fans roared every time their team scored, and as Chargers coach Brendalee Cardinal noted, this was a big moment for the team that hasn’t been to SPAA finals in her memory.
“I definitely knew the talent was there, and we definitively had the height. It was just getting it all together,” she said, adding that the girls were determined to do well, which showed as they defeated Mallaig to head into the finals.
Their success took people by surprise, she said, as they asked, “Who is this team?”, particularly since the girls only won one game last year, in Cardinal’s first year of coaching.
But with most of the girls being in Grade 8, Cardinal feels the future is bright for her team, saying with confidence, “We’re going to be back here next year.”
For the Racette boys, this is the fourth year in a row the team has won the banner, but things weren’t looking promising in the first quarter of their game in Elk Point, where the Raiders got off to a slow start, with only two baskets and two successful free throws in the first quarter, and with the host F. G. Miller Crusaders leading 10-6 at the buzzer.
The Raiders took a few deep breaths, turned up their efforts and tied the score in the first three minutes of the second frame. The eventual SPAA champs took the lead with 2:24 left on the clock, increasing their lead to 19-15 by the half-time break. They continued the onslaught in the second half, with the score at 51-28 when the clock ran out on their 2017 season.
“It’s been a rough season, with its ups and downs,” Racette coach Stephanie Tremblay said after posing with her gold-medal team and their SPAA banner. “This is definitely a high.”
Their success, she said, came from “really strong individual efforts,” as a result of extensive practice and team building exercises during the season. Tremblay paid special tribute to her Grade 9 players, who will move on to senior high next year, and said, “I’ve been coaching these guys for three years, so this was an emotional game for me.”
Assistant coach Joy Tremblay said she has worked with the team for four years, and feels their success is “the result of the program we’ve developed. We have 50 boys playing basketball, and by the way they play, you can see their love of the game.”