The Stettler Wildcats had a busy weekend with three games in two days at the Lloyd Sather Invitational senior boys’ high school basketball tournament in Daysland.
Stettler finished with a 1-2 record after beating Hay Lakes 46-39 in the fifth-place game Saturday. In earlier action, Stettler lost to host Daysland 74-38 before dropping an eight-point decision to New Norway.
In the first game against Daysland, “the boys came out slow and were only able to score two points in the first quarter,” said Wildcats coach Joe Thibeau.
“We gained momentum throughout the rest of the game, but the deficit from the first quarter was too big to overcome.
“Our next game (against New Norway) started similarly. Despite some quality shots, we only had five points at the end of the first quarter.
“We again had to play from behind and the boys fought back and made the game close — coming to within three points, thanks to a strong defensive effort led by Nick Baharally in the fourth (quarter).”
Grade 11 newcomer Braden Deagle had an outstanding game in leading Stettler with 17 points. Deagle was also a standout in the win over Hay Lakes.
“Again, Braden Deagle had a tremendous game, playing as a centre for the first time,” Thibeau said of his performance against Hay Lakes. Deagle and fellow Grade 11 student Justin Fleischhacker were the top scorers in the Wildcats’ victory.
“The boys had a much stronger start and we found ourselves in a close back-and-forth game,” Thibeau said.
“In the fourth quarter, we were able to get ahead by 10 and kept the lead from there to the end.
“Hay Lakes put on some great pressure and were able to close the gap to two points, but the (Stettler) boys would play tough defence and push back to gain a six- to eight-point lead.”
The next tournament action for the Wildcats is their home tournament Feb. 22 and 23.
In league play last week, the Wildcats lost 80-36 to the Lindsay Thurber Raiders of Red Deer. Spencer Klassen led the Raiders with 20 points.
This week, the Wildcats were scheduled to play at Ponoka on Tuesday, before heading to Red Deer on Thursday to face the Hunting Hills Lightning.
“Then we take a break in our schedule to allow for upcoming exams,” Thibeau said.
“Our schedule then resumes the first week in February.”