Ardens advance to Regionals
The Swift Current Comp. Ardens senior girls basketball team extended their season by one weekend with a win Friday to qualify for Regionals.
The Ardens won their SHSAA 4A Girls Conference opener at home on Friday before losing the semi-final on Saturday.
The Ardens opened the tournament with an easy 6345 win over Moose Jaw Vanier to book a trip to Regionals. The Ardens came out of the blocks slowly but they started to score easy transition baskets to lead 1911 after the first quarter. Their defense took over in the second quarter as they held the Vikings to four points for a 37-15 lead at halftime to put the game out of reach. The second half was a mere formality as the Ardens kept their bodies fresh and cruised to the victory.
They sputtered early against the Lumsden Angels Saturday and trailed by over 20 points at times before eventually losing 80-66 in a wildly entertaining contest.
They got out to an awful start but did well to cut the deficit to 40-27 at halftime. The Ardens heated up in the third quarter to score 26 points for a 57-53 deficit heading into the fourth quarter.
Their comeback bid was dealt a blow when grade 12 guard Shae-Lynn Bolton injured her ankle early in the fourth quarter and Lumsden outscored them 21-11 the rest of the way for a 14point win to move on to the Conference final against Moose Jaw AE Peacock.
“We came out slow in the first quarter,” admitted Ardens’ assistant coach Duane Regier. “Then we really pulled it together and got back in the game to be down by four. We fought until the end and we just couldn’t pull it together in the last two minutes.”
“If we would have started off the way we played in the second half we definitely would have had that game in the bag,” added grade 11 guard Katie DarlingtonKuebler.
“We ran the floor more. We looked more into the post and our shots started to fall,” she said of her team that went blow for blow with Lumsden compared to the one that trailed by over 20 points early in the second quarter. The slow start was just too much for the Ardens to overcome against a qual- ity opponent.
“I think some shots off the top, we missed about three in a row and it caused the girls to get down on themselves a little bit. They had to realize that they had to get it back on defense and it just took us a little while for the defense to get rolling to get us back in the game,” said Regier.
They made a game of it in the second half, pulling within four points on multiple occasions.
“The defense was rotating better,” said Regier. “We were actually rebounding and getting aggressive in the key. We just started doing a lot of things well, including communication as a team and just started to hit shots on the offensive side.”
The Ardens were forced to begin pondering how they would replace their top three-point threat if Bolton is not available for Regionals with their season on the line.
“Yeah we are definitely going to need some more people to step up shootingwise. It is heart-breaking but it is something that we are going to have to deal with,” said Darlington-Kuebler.
“We need to step up and team, team, team. We have been playing team all year, we have been rotating the same girls in and out and we will just have the next girl step up and play a bigger role,” added Regier.
The Ardens will be in Lumsden for a four-team Regional tournament where they will need to win both games to advance to Hoopla in Regina the following weekend. They open the tournament Friday with a potential rematch against Lumsden looming Saturday needing to win both games to advance to Hoopla.
“We definitely need to put it together in practice this week,” said Darlington Kuebler. “Everybody has got to work 100 percent. If we put it together like we did in the last quarter then we definitely have a good shot at going to Hoopla next weekend.”
“The key for us is to come out and realize that we can run with any team in Saskatchewan,” added Regier. “We have had some big games already this year where we have proven that we can play with anybody. Even in this game here we came back and showed that we can come back from down 20 points. It is just keeping it rolling into next weekend and playing with that same intensity.”
Veteran guard Katie Darlington-Kuebler (right) got to the basket for an easy transition bucket during Friday’s win over Moose Jaw Vanier.