Ardens settle for silver in thrilling championship game

Steven Mah
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The Swift Current Comp. Ardens enjoyed another strong weekend at home but for a third straight tournament came up just one win short of a gold medal.

The Ardens won their first two games to advance to the gold medal game before losing 60-57 to Moose Jaw Central.

The Ardens opened their tournament in front of their fellow students on Friday afternoon against the rival Shaunavon Silhouettes. They defeated their regional rival 61-45 led by 18 points from grade 10 guard Jade Addai. Grade 10 guard Kirstie Klevgaard scored eight points and was named the Player of the Game. Grade 12 guard Shae-Lynn Bolton added eight points in the win.

“The girls were very excited to play in front of a packed gym against Shaunavon,” said head coach Andrew Herrick. “It was a great atmosphere with the stands filled and the SCCHS pep band playing during breaks. We aren't used to playing in that kind of environment and so the girls were a little nervous which translated into tentative basketball. Shaunavon has a well coached team with some great athletes and they gave us a tough opening game.”

The Ardens faced the Estevan Elecs in the semi-final Saturday afternoon and got out to an outstanding start with their full-court press and led 21-16 after one quarter. They held Estevan to just six points in the second quarter to lead 34-22 at halftime. The Ardens outscored Estevan 22-15 in the third quarter to lead 56-37 and then cruised to a 68-53 win to secure a spot in the championship game.

“As a coaching staff we were very excited with the way we played against Estevan. Our pressure defense and transition game started to click for extended stretches. We want to be known as a team with great pressure defense and gets out and runs in transition which we finally saw against Estevan.”

Addai and grade 12 post Cheyenne Kendall led the Ardens with 12 points apiece and Kendall was named the Player of the Game. Grade nine guard Mackenzie Froehlich added 10 points for the Ardens.

The Ardens faced Moose Jaw Central in the championship game, a team they had beaten during the opening weekend of the season in Estevan.

“Central is a tough match up for us as they have three big post players that really control the glass for them,” said Herrick.

The Ardens trailed the game 31-23 at halftime and 47-33 after three quarters.

“We came out a little flat and struggled to execute on both ends of the floor. Against a good team like Central it is tough to get back in the game,” said Herrick.

The deficit nearly reached 20 points early in the fourth quarter before the Ardens scored 24 points to get back in the game.

“Down 10+ points in the last few minutes the girls really dug deep and created a bunch of turnovers leading to some easy points. Credit to them that they stayed positive and never panicked. It was that mental toughness that at the end of the game gave them a chance to win.”

The Ardens had a chance to tie the game with a well executed inbounds play in the final seconds only to see Bolton’s buzzer beating three-pointer go off the back rim for a 60-57 final to settle for silver for a second straight year at their home tournament.

"I think we are happy that we battled back twice and we came home with this,” said Kendall after the game. “We will take it but I know next year they are going to come out wanting first and I think they are going to get it."

“I think the fourth quarter really showed the character of the kids we have on this team.

It was one of those nights where the shots weren't falling and our defense wasn't quite good enough yet to get us a win,” said Herrick.

"If we played how we did in the fourth quarter I think we could have gone ahead," added Addai.

Bolton had an outstanding shooting performance with 20 points. Grade 11 guard Katie Darlington-Kuebler added 15 points and Addai chipped in 13 points as the veteran trio of guards accounted for 48 of the Ardens’ 57 points.

"I feel that we did good,” added Kendall. “We were good on D, if we talked a little more we would have been better. If shots would have started falling then we would have been up there in scoring. But otherwise we played really well."

The Ardens will continue to work to avoid the slow starts and lulls in games that have cost them early this season.

"We are going to have to come out with a lot more intensity and just keep it up and not get down on ourselves,” said Kendall. “We need to just always have our head in the game."

"I think we need to come out with fire in the beginning and just be pumped up, instead of waiting until the last five minutes," added Addai.

The Ardens will enter the holiday break with a 6-3 record.

"We are getting there. We are kind of at that point where we get it more and know how each other plays," said Addai.

The next tournament action for the Ardens will be in Weyburn on January 10-11.

Organizations: Ardens Basketball, SCCHS, SHSAA

Geographic location: Estevan, Swift Current, Weyburn

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