Tourney action back on courts
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.