The Stettler Wildcats tasted playoff action before wrapping up their senior girls’ high school basketball season with a loss at Lacombe last Tuesday night.
The Wildcats dropped a 61-43 decision to the Lacombe Rams in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
“We had a good second half, but we really struggled to score in the first,” said Wildcats coach Charisse McDonald.
“(The Rams) were on fire with a shooting percentage in the 70 per cent range, for sure.”
McDonald said Brooke Torgerson, who led Stettler with 13 points, “had the game of her life.”
Kayleigh Croker and Dacia Gramlick each had eight points.
It was an emotional night for four Stettler seniors.
“It’s always a sad day when it’s the last game for the Grade 12s,” McDonald said. “Kourtney Schilling, Claire Aspenes, Shayla Neitz and Kelsey Fisher are finished (high school basketball) and will be missed. Each one brought something special to our team and will be hard to replace.”
The younger Wildcats gained quality minutes during a competitive season for the senior girls.
“Despite a record below .500, we have had a good year and have been fun to watch,” McDonald said. “We had moments, quarters even, of outstanding play, but just weren’t ever able to put a whole game together. It’s difficult to be competitive with teams that play out of (the high school) season, as a number of teams do.
“Getting players to go to camps, practise on their own and watch more games would make for a more competitive program.”
McDonald, who teaches physical education at Stettler Middle School, believes the high school girls represented Stettler well on and off the court.
“We are proud of the kids we coach for their good sportsmanship, sense of fair play, desire to improve and the commitment that they have shown to our program,” said McDonald, whose assistant coach is Julie Siemens.
“The number of players over the years has been decreasing for basketball and, of course, we’d love to see more kids want to play, but we know we are competing with so many other choices for kids during the basketball season. It’s just not possible for them to do it all.”
Bronze-medallists at home tourney
A few days before their playoff game, the Wildcats placed third in their six-team tournament at the Stettler Elementary School gym.
Ryley topped Barrhead 60-30 in the final.
Stettler’s only loss in three games came in its tourney opener against Ryley, which won 45-34.
“It was one of our most poorly played games of the year,” McDonald said.
“We often get off to a slow start and just can’t overcome it in the end. We can be our own worst enemy.”
Jamie Ternes scored 13 points for Stettler, and Aspenes added eight.
The Wildcats showed “drastic improvement” with a 54-41 victory over Didsbury.
“We got off to a good start and maintained a lead throughout,” McDonald said.
Dacia Gramlick netted 18 points and Ternes had 16.
“Jamie’s shooting has improved so much over the past few months and it’s starting to show up on the scoresheet,” McDonald said.
In the bronze-medal game, Stettler prevailed 53-35 in “a grudge match” against Redwater.
“We had lost to them by four points in Leduc,” McDonald said. “They were down a couple of players, which was a disappointment because we really were looking forward to playing that same team again.
“We played great defence and used a press we have been working on for the first time, and it proved very successful against that team.”
Gramlick led the Stettler offence with 12 points, while Ternes and Croker each collected eight points.