Tour­ney ac­tion back on courts

Lethbridge Herald - - HERALD SPORTS | TOP STORIES - Dave Wells Dave Wells is the ac­tiv­i­ties co­or­di­na­tor for the South­ern Al­berta In­ter­scholas­tic Ad­min­is­tra­tive Coun­cil. His col­umn ap­pears each Wed­nes­day.

Sec­ond se­mes­ter (third quar­ter if you’re from Catholic Cen­tral) aca­demics is upon us. After an exam pe­riod slow­down there’s a flurry of high school ath­letic ac­tion ready to greet par­tic­i­pants and spec­ta­tors, too. In fact, the slate is rather full lead­ing up to the Fam­ily Day/Teacher’s Con­ven­tion week. ••• Thanks to or­ga­niz­ers I have three ma­jor var­sity bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment draws for this Fri­day and Satur­day.

The LCI Sr. Green & Gold Girls Tour­na­ment fea­tures a truly stel­lar field. Six of eight en­trants are ranked in the top 15 among Al­berta’s un­lim­ited-en­rol­ment 4A squads, with five in the top 10. In fact, it’s as­sured at least one ranked team will end up in the sev­enth-place game!

I know LCI ath­letic di­rec­tor Chris Har­ris has done his best to re­cruit a stel­lar field. In fact, at one point it looked like a young su­per-team from Bri­tish Columbia was en route. It didn’t hap­pen this sea­son, but I know from both sides it is likely in the com­ing years.

As for this event, Cal­gary Bishop Car­roll, Magrath, LCI, Cal­gary Western Canada and St. Al­bert Catholic were all in the top 10 of the first Al­berta Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion rank­ings. Ray­mond was top 15, but has beat two of the top 10 since that list was put to­gether. Medicine Hat High, host of this year’s 4A Girls (and Boys) provin­cials, are also in the field, along with Air­drie George McDougall (who you may have guessed are LCI’s first-round op­po­nent. (Hey, it’s a lo­cal tra­di­tion).

As for in­di­vid­ual play­ers, one kid who may well be per­form­ing for pay at a high level 15 years from now is six-foot, strong, Bishop Car­roll, Grade 10 for­ward Yvonne Ejim. She’s still a work in progress, but was a mem­ber of Canada’s U16 na­tional team last sum­mer at 15 and is a very good bet to don the Maple Leaf in the U17 World Cham­pi­onships in Minsk this sum­mer.

In fact, this may well be the only time Ejim plays high school bas­ket­ball in this area. There ap­pears to be a very sig­nif­i­cant like­li­hood she’ll be play­ing prep hoops some­where far away come next sea­son. She al­ready been closely mon­i­tored by at least one peren­nial NCAA top-10 pro­gram.

On the north­side, the boys Win­ston Churchill In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment holds sway. When it comes to the use of so­cial me­dia, veteran Churchill head coach Kevin McBeath is a leader and I’m sure wcit.churchill­bas­ket­ball.com will be a great on­go­ing source.

To me, the event has an in­ter­est­ing com­po­si­tion of en­trants, with Churchill entertaining Spruce Grove Memo­rial, Chi­nook, Ch­ester­mere, Cal­gary Wil­liam Aber­hart, Cochrane, Ed­mon­ton Strath­cona Chris­tian (ranked No. 3 in 2A) and Cal­gary Robert Thirsk.

Mean­while, as per usual, Im­manuel Chris­tian has a top-flight af­fair. The host Ea­gles are ranked No. 1 in 2A and I’m sure aspire to use this event as key prepa­ra­tion en route to provin­cials this March 15-17 hosted by Kainai.

The vis­i­tors are Cal­gary Chris­tian, Banff Com­mu­nity, age-old ri­vals Pic­ture Butte, Cal­gary Run­dle Col­lege and Cal­gary Queen El­iz­a­beth.

•• •

As im­por­tant as in­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ments are per­ceived to be for many rea­sons, I ab­so­lutely know suc­cess­ful leagues pro­vide a sta­ble base for pro­grams that can’t be du­pli­cated. There are six loops in our area, or five if you count the as­so­ci­ated South­ern Al­berta High School 4A Boys Bas­ket­ball League and South­ern Al­berta Girls High School Bas­ket­ball Leagues

(www.SouthHoops.ca) as one — which is not tech­ni­cally cor­rect in nu­mer­ous ways.

Look­ing at the slates over the next seven days, I see one truly stand­out af­fair next Tues­day as the Ray­mond girls travel to Card­ston.

As for the loop’s cy­ber home, ku­dos to Ronna and

Mike McKee for their con­tin­ued ef­forts. They are aided and abet­ted by an ar­ray of school-based helpers. When you com­bine the info on that site with the prod­uct

Dale Woodard and his Leth­bridge Her­ald im­age-tak­ing and desk-com­pa­tri­ots put on these pages, it’s a win­ning daily dou­ble. ••• Or­ga­nized ASAA rock throw­ing sea­son is com­ing down to its clos­ing ends. South Zone High School Cham­pi­onships are pre­sented by Win­ston Churchill at the Leth­bridge Curl­ing Club Feb. 13-14, with suc­cess­ful rinks ad­vanc­ing to provin­cials March 23 in St. Al­bert.

WELLSIE’S WORLD — I spent thou­sands of hours as a youth in Leth­bridge’s bowl­ing al­leys. Yes, even hand-set­ting pins at the Bowladrome. Back then Leth­bridge’s Dianne

Vi­olini was a leg­end of the lanes, hav­ing emerged on the na­tional scene while still in the Youth Bowl­ing Coun­cil ranks.

Well, I’m cer­tainly not young any­more, but Dianne re­mains an ac­tive leg­end, lo­cally, provin­cially and I’d wa­ger, na­tion­ally.

I see re­cently the Leth­bridge Sports Hall of Famer (class of 1987) qual­i­fied for her 50th con­sec­u­tive Al­berta Open Cham­pi­onship, win­ning the South­ern Al­berta ti­tle with a 20-game scor­ing av­er­age of 257, 13 points higher than the men’s vic­tor.

The ele­gant righty some­how seems to have at least fig­u­ra­tively achieved

Ponce de Leon’s quest for the Foun­tain of Youth. Heck, she’s an en­trenched in­sti­tu­tion as busi­ness man­ager of Win­ston Churchill High School, too.

I re­mem­ber back to 1976 when Dianne had the du­bi­ous task of coach­ing me on the South­ern Al­berta’s High School Pro­vin­cial Bowl­ing Cham­pi­onship team. While vis­it­ing her house, I was struck by the largest tro­phy col­lec­tion I had ever seen. I can only imag­ine what it looks like to­day! Heck, if she re­tained them, her col­lec­tion of elite vin­tage bowl­ing event shirts must be truly epic, too.

I was happy to see the large turnout at U of L bas­ket­ball last Thurs­day. I think they got much more than their money’s worth of en­ter­tain­ment what­ever they paid (and I paid the high­est rate pos­si­ble).

The reg­u­lar sea­son ends this week with Univer­sity of Al­berta in town Fri­day and Satur­day. I hope U of L men’s guard De­jon Bur­deaux is healthy enough to strutt his stuff for the first time this se­mes­ter as his reg­u­lar sea­son ca­reer comes to an end. Cer­tainly one of the best ’Horns of all-time at both ends of the court, very ar­guably No. 1 de­fen­sively. Nice chap, too.

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