May 21st, 2018

Polished hardwood, pebbled ice are stages set for performances

By Woodard, Dale on February 14, 2018.

This week’s ‘High School Notebook’ column by Dave Wells

One of the longest running annual invitational high school basketball events on the Prairies is set for this Friday and Saturday, when the LCI Sr. Boys Green & Gold Tournament returns.

The tourney has been held in various months of the calendar since it’s mid 1960s debut, but whenever it’s played a top-flight field is anticipated.

That certainly holds true this season. The host Rams (ranked No. 7, unlimited-enrolment 4A, in the first official ASAA basketball rankings) are joined by Cardston (No. 3), Calgary Sir Winston Churchill (No. 5), Calgary Western Canada (plausibly ranked in the next nice list due out Friday), Chinook, Okotoks Holy Trinity and Moose Jaw Vanier.

Not much doubt winning this event will hold the victor in good stead looking to the last (and by far most important) rankings which come out March 1.

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The local invitational tournament slate is nearing completion.

However, the associated Southern Alberta High School Girls and 4A Boys Basketball Leagues’ ( regular-seasons stretch run is at hand. And what a sprint to the finish these next three weeks will be.

Tonight for example, the LCI at Magrath varsity girls tussle has all the hallmarks of a remarkable encounter.

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I’m very pleased to see there are full fields (reps from each of six districts in girls, boys and mixed events) in the ongoing South Zone High School Curling Championships, which began Tuesday at the Lethbridge Curling Club.

The bonspiel (“curling bonspiel” would be redundant according to long-time Lethbridge Herald sports editor Pat Sullivan and really: I can’t help but still agree) concludes today with draws at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. In addition to South Zone banners and hardware, berths in the ASAA Provincial Curling Championship, set for March 2-3 in St. Albert are on the line.

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The ASAA South Zone has three meetings a year. The latest happened Wednesday in Taber. Upcoming Alberta title events hosted in the area were part of the discussions.

It’s long been known this March 15-17 South Zone teams host four 2017-18 ASAA Provincial Basketball Championship Tournaments. Kainai presents 2A Girls, Claresholm Willow Creek Willow Creek 2A Boys, while Medicine Hat High takes on the challenge of putting on 4A Boys and Girls.

Amazingly, to me at least, Hat High is also the home to 2017-18 ASAA Wrestling Provincial Wrestling Championships the week before, March 9-10. I suspect the Hat High staff is somewhat amazed, too, especially considering the school also hosted the 2017-18 ASAA Provincial 4A Girls and Boys Volleyball Championship Tournaments last November. Kudos to a truly Herculean organizational effort by the Gas City crew.

As well, it was announced LCI has jumped up with late enthusiasm to host 2017-18 ASAA Cheerleading Provincials April 13-14 at Lethbridge College. In addition, Stirling was recently awarded the 1A Boys Basketball Provincials in 2018-19 and LCI will be the site of next season’s ASAA Rural Wrestling Provincials.

WELLSIE’S WORLD – This is a very big week for the University of Lethbridge men’s basketball team, head coached by former Catholic Central, LCI and Chinook bench boss Mike Hansen. The Horns, with a fleet of local high school grads on the roster, host University of Regina in a best-of-three Canada West Conference Quarter-Final Series that tips Thursday (remember it’s Thursday) at the U of L’s 1st Choice Savings Centre. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday’s game is free for those 17-and-under who bring a dry goods food gift.

This shapes up as a very close series on paper. U of L earned the No. 4 playoff seed in the massive and somewhat unwieldy (that may well be a kind appraisal) 17-team loop, with Regina No. 5. Lethbridge is ranked No. 12 nationally, out 47 U Sports teams, using the RPI computer system that I find great validity in, with Regina at No. 14. The teams met twice in the regular season with Regina prevailing at home by two and 13.

Across the river Lethbridge College volleyball and basketball teams close out their regular season schedules. Volleyball entertain Olds Friday night and Saturday afternoon, with Calgary St. Mary’s in town for hoop throwdowns Saturday evening.

I see the LC volleyball women under the direction of Catholic Central grad Anna Schwark have clinched a playoff berth and barring an epic collapse the Kodiak V- Ball men, masterminded by former LCI girls head coach Greg Gibos, are set for post-season action, too.

I see two former local high school standouts who finished their prep careers in Arizona have signed letters of intent to play post-secondary sports in the USA ongoing.

Tanner McLachlan, who was a standout in basketball and football at LCI, inked at Southern Utah in football. Southern Utah are now members of the Big Sky Conference, along with four-year schools such as Montana and Montana State.

They play at second-highest level of NCAA football, now known as the Football Championship Subdivision, but forever ingrained in my memory as 1-AA. McLachlan was listed at six-foot-five, 210 pounds by Southern Utah, who termed the rangy pass catcher as a tight end.

Tia Heggie, a five-foot-eight former Cardston guard, is off to shoot hoops at Snow College in Utah. They play in NJCAA Division 1, overall the top level of junior college basketball in the nation to our immediate south. (Although California has its own non-NJCAA associated league and some Cali teams would surely rate among the Excited States elite.)

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