Stettler’s senior girls basketball team lost to Wetaskiwin in provincial semi-finals this week, capping a season that saw remarkable growth, according to coach Charisse McDonald.
The girls from William E. Hay Composite High School played the Wetaskiwin Sabres on Monday, March 9, losing 40-51.
McDonald said it was a good yardstick by which to measure their progress over the season, as they played the same team in their season opener, where they lost by 60 points.
“We’ve come a long way,” she said. “One big improvement this year has been our defense . . . Offensively we struggled, but defensively we have really found our groove.”
Morgan VanDusen scored 18 points for the Stettler Wildcats in Monday’s game, while Dacia Gramlick scored 14 points.
The Cats were down by 20 at one point, but in the fourth quarter, McDonald said, they “just exploded,” outscoring their opponents by 18-4 in that quarter and narrowing the gap to within six points.
“We enjoyed the show of the other coach,” she added with a laugh, noting, “She was afraid she would lose . . . She was encouraging her players.”
The senior girls defeated Lacombe in the quarter-final round on Wednesday, March 4 with a score of 52-40. Gramlick scored 29 points in that game while VanDusen had a total of eight points.
After a quick start, Stettler took advantage of the fast break, only to have Lacombe storm back to end the second quarter with a score of 24-22.
The Wildcats came out stronger in the second half, containing the Rams’ taller players with their aggressive defense and establishing a stronger lead that couldn’t be overcome.
“It was really a well-rounded game,” said McDonald. “It was close the entire time . . . They just played really hard.”
With the season at its end, McDonald said she was pleased with the improvement shown over the last couple of months. She also expressed her appreciation to Grade 12 players Gramlick, VanDusen and Brooke Clark.
“Their leadership and commitment will be missed next year,” she said. “They’ve never missed a practice, never late for a practice . . . They’re just terrific leaders.”