June 19th, 2019

Local March Madness right around the corner

By Woodard, Dale on February 27, 2019.

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

One form of madness we’ve endured since Feb. 2 has been weather related. Yikes!

However, now it’s time for season-ending basketball fever to warm up participants and followers.

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The related Southern Alberta High School Girls and 4A Boys Basketball Leagues (www.SouthHoops.ca) race to a regular-season conclusion this week. In total, 46 games are slated. Wow.

Tonight, for example, in varsity girls Magrath (12-0) visits Cardston (10-1.) Some other tilts that could well pack the pews include all four Cardston teams at LCI Friday and four Cardston squads hosting Raymond Saturday.

There are no varsity playoffs in these leagues, with teams going directly to South Zone Championships. Which leads me to …

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After a one-day (Alberta Schools Athletic Association mandates no Sunday events at any rate) respite, area high school basketball action resumes with zones next Monday. How tight of a shave are we looking at? Well, even South Zone draw templates can’t be finalized until the last ASAA provincial rankings that determine wildcard provincial berths per zone come out tomorrow. Really.

As per usual 1A/2A South Zones will be held together in multi-court fashion at Lethbridge College Val Matteotti Gym Monday-Saturday. Kudos to Immanuel Christian, now led by athletic director (and former five-year University of Lethbridge men’s basketball player) Matthew Bekkering, for habitually taking on an enormous organizational load.

There’s a very informative event website (www.SouthZoneBasketball.com) which, along with this journal, will no doubt keep fans up to speed. Still, I hope many head out to see the games in person.

And there will be a plethora of games. 2A Boys and Girls chases include reps from Vulcan County Central, Fort Macleod F.P. Walshe, Immanuel Christian, Kainai, Coaldale Kate Andrews, Pincher Creek Matthew Halton, Taber St. Mary’s, Vauxhall and Claresholm Willow Creek. Nine in each gender, I’d guess, with one thumb left to spare.

As for eligible 1A Girls teams, I see a dozen noted, with 10 1A (under-100 Grade 10-12 students) Boys teams. I would guess some 1A teams are actually combined with another school, which is allowed in ASAA basketball. From what I can gather Coaldale Christian, Nanton J.T. Foster, Lundbreck Livingstone, Nobleford Noble Central, Picture Butte, Piikani, Bow Island Senator Gershaw, Pincher Creek St. Michael’s and Stirling are in both gender events, with Coalhurst, Milk River Erle Rivers, and Foremost girls only, while Warner is boys only.

3A South Zones meander from place to place. This year, from next Thursday to Saturday, W.R. Myers is hosting both gender events in the resplendent Barnwell School. Myers AD Greg Bowes (a former University of Saskatchewan football and basketball player) is the lead organizer.

The tourney features small fields (a number of 2A and 3A size schools declare up to 4A), including four 3A Boys and five 3A Girls programs. Medicine Hat Crescent Heights, Dunmore Eagle Butte, and Medicine Hat McCoy join Myers in both, with Winston Churchill as girls’ entrants.

And then we come to 4A which is conducted in conjunction with the Southern Alberta High School Girls and 4A Boys Basketball League junior varsity playoffs.

Action begins in schools with associated JV league playoff games Monday, and concludes Thursday to Saturday at the University of Lethbridge 1st Choice Savings Centre.

Now, I’m an advocate of this event, but I really do think for many reasons picking up a tournament pass early in the week is a bargain. Passes are less than half the price of the individual day total, not to mention the time saved standing repeatedly in lines. And, yes, there really is a chance Saturday action could sell out.

You want heat. I guarantee heat in that venue!

Cardston, Catholic Central, LCI, Magrath, Medicine Hat High and Raymond are in both varsity genders along with the Chinook boys and Winston Churchill girls.

Above I mentioned the 1A Grade 10-12 student limit was 99. It’s 299 for 2A and 799 in 3A. Teams that draw on more than one school used combined enrolment numbers.

WELLSIE’S WORLD – Just 15 days until the Cavendish Farms U SPORTS University Cup men’s hockey championship invades Enmax Centre. Certainly the most ambitious scale extended event production U of L athletics has ever presented. No doubt its ultimate degree of perceived success will have a strong bearing on whether U of L bids for future nationals in other sports.

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