PCA Lady Sabres ranked #2 in Alberta

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PCA Lady Sabres are ranked #2 in Alberta! The first poll of the season has been released, and one of the best kept secrets in Kneehill County is out—the PCA Lady Sabres basketball team is among the elite in Alberta 2A girls basketball. With PCA hosting the provincial tournament in March, the Lady Sabres are guaranteed a berth, and the way they have been playing so far, they may not be the most hospitable hosts.
Following on the heels of a very successful volleyball season, where the Lady Sabres finished 4th in the province, the same core group of girls switched over to their basketball jerseys, and with just three days' practice, continued with their winning ways. Hosting their home tournament in the first week of December, the Sabres defeated W.G. Murdoch of Crossfield in their opening game, and followed that with a decisive victory over the Christ the King Chargers from Leduc—semi-finalists in last year's provincial tournament, and ranked third in this year's first provincial poll. This led them to the championship game against the Mt. Baker Wild from Cranbrook, B.C. Mt. Baker competes quite capably in B.C.'s 3A division, the province's largest, but this did not faze the Sabres, as they raced out to an early lead, extending it to a 14 point margin by the middle of the third quarter. Then just as the home crowd was beginning to relax, the Wild's pressure defence began to take its toll. While the Sabres shooting turned as cold as the weather outside, the Wild began heating up, and what looked like a comfortable lead began to melt away—but somehow, despite scoring only 4 points in the last 12 minutes of the game, the Sabres hung on to record a thrilling one point victory, 46-45.
The second tournament of the year was hosted by the Strathcona Christian Academy Eagles of Sherwood Park. On paper, 5th ranked Central Alberta Christian High School should have been a tough opponent, but the Sabres came out strong and defeated them, putting them into the semifinals against Edmonton Christian's Lions, silver medallists in last year's provincial 2A tournament. Due to increased enrolment this year, the Lions are now in the 3A division this year, ranked #10 provincially, and they came out playing the kind of tough defence that you would expect from lions, completely rattling the Sabres for much of the first half with their full court pressure while building a 30 point lead. After regrouping at half time, the Sabres came back to make a game of it, only to fall short in a 65-50 decision. This put them into the 3rd place game against the host school from SCA. Racing out to an early lead, they never looked back winning the bronze.
The Lady Sabres are 2-0 in league play, having won vs St. Anthony's and arch-rivals Acme. Going into Christmas with a 7-1 record-- a record noticed by Alberta's high school coaches, who voted PCA #2 among all 2A schools in Alberta in the first poll, behind only Immanuel Christian of Lethbridge, the two-time defending provincial champions. Following are the 3rd ranked Christ the King Chargers of Leduc, perennial South Central zone powerhouse J. C. Charyk of Hanna is ranked 4th, with CACHS rounding out the top five.
This year's Sabres team is characterized by balance—making it very difficult for opposing coaches to know how to defend them. In eight games, PCA has had six different leading scorers - starters Keely Weigum, Shawni Woodland, Jenna Cole, Claire Richardson, and Dylana Knelsen, and newcomer Brooklyn Fritz have all taken turns leading the team. With a strong group of experienced starters, and a deep bench, third year coach Candice Riemersma has the difficult but enviable challenge of finding enough playing time for all of her girls.
In January, the Sabres open up with a tournament in Lacombe, including a possible rematch with CACHS, along with league games against Drumheller, Trochu, and Three Hills, before a two week break for diploma exams, with the season continuing in earnest in February.