The Swift Current Comp. Ardens will be looking to extend their perfect start to the season at home this weekend when they host their annual eight-team home tournament.
It will be the Ardens first opportunity to showcase their skills at home this season and one of the final opportunities for the grade 12’s to play at home in front of friends and family.
Grade 12 Rebecca Frank is in her third season with the Senior Ardens.
“It is very important, especially considering that we have six or seven girls that this is their final year. Of course we want to do well in front of everyone.”
“We are all really looking forward to our home tournament,” said third-year Senior Arden Jocelyn Martin. “With it being my grade 12 year I am really excited for it. Hopefully we can get lots of fans out. We are giving away an iPad in a raffle and hopefully lots of fans come out for that too and watch some basketball.”
She hopes the team can feed off the hometown crowd.
“Playing in front of the fans just brings a whole new level of intensity to the game just having somebody cheer you on as you go up and down the court. It is always nice to have a bunch of people out.”
The Ardens opened the season in Estevan with three consecutive wins and a gold medal and have been fine-tuning their game for the past two weeks.
“I think we played really good considering it was our first weekend. It is a new coach and we have a couple new girls, but we have been working really hard in practice and I think that really reflected on our games. I think we really did well together,” said Frank.
“Overall we played pretty well as a team,” added Martin. “It was kind of rough having Shay Smith out because she hurt her finger. But we ended up pulling it together as a team and lots of other people stepped up to fill here role, so it was really good that way.”
The weekend did expose some areas that required improvement said Frank.
“We definitely need to work on defensive intensity. We need to work on passing the ball more and not just grabbing it and shooting it. Overall I would say we are doing pretty good so far.”
Grade 12 forward Shay Smith is a fourth-year member of the Senior Ardens. She suffered a gruesome finger injury during in the opening moments of the Ardens second game of the season. She dislocated her left index finger badly enough that the tendon was visible, sending her to the Estevan hospital and then later to the hospital in Regina. Smith was receiving updates by text message from another player’s mom while in the hospital and cheering along as the Ardens pulled out two wins in her absence.
The initial layoff was expected to be six weeks but she was still waiting to hear whether the injury required surgery.
Smith says the goal is obviously to win their home tournament, even though she will likely be reduced to a spectator from the sidelines.
“It is going to be really hard. I think it is kind of sad since it is my last year and I won’t get the chance to ever do this again. I believe in my team and I know they can do it.”
“The goal is definitely to keep up the intensity,” added Frank. “Our goal it to outwork every other team, make it so that they hate playing against us. Keep it fast, keep it aggressive, make shots.”
Smith was a freshman when the Ardens won silver at 4A Hoopla.
“I think we have seven or eight grade 12’s on our team this year. I guess after this it is just going to be building years for a couple years after that. All of us girls are looking to Hoopla as our main focus. It is going to be really hard to get there but I think we can do it.”
“Obviously we want to try and get to Hoopla, but just progressing as the season goes on and get better with every tournament that we have,” added Martin.
The Ardens are led by a strong core of grade 12’s this season, although two will likely be out with injuries for a considerable portion of the season.
“Yeah I think now that we are a little bit older and have more experience on the court, we have I think seven grade 12’s, so that brings a lot more experience to the court and a lot more optimism,” said Martin.
The Senior Ardens Invitational Basketball Tournament is sponsored by Wheatland Machine Shop, Dr. Veason, Diamond Energy, and Swift Current Steel.
The Ardens will open the tournament Friday at 8:30 p.m. against Estevan in a game that fans will have the opportunity to take home some great prizes, including an iPad 4.
Each person in attendance will receive one entry into the draw at Friday evening's game. Additionally, the Ardens are asking for non-perishable food bank donations for the Swift Current Salvation Army Food Bank. For each food bank item donated fans will get an additional entry into the draw.
$100 gift cards to Boston Pizza and Pinnacle Source for Sports will be awarded when two contestants will compete against each other to make a layup, free throw, and three-pointer in that order. The first competitor to make all three wins the prize.
The grand prize of the iPad will be decided when three contestants will be drawn to make a half-court shot. If none of the contestants are successful there will be a random draw at the conclusion of the game for the iPad.
The tournament field also included entries from Regina Luther College, Weyburn, Yorkton Sacred Heart, Moose Jaw Vanier, Shaunavon and Yorkton Regional.
Action will continue all day Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. The championship final is slated for 7:35 p.m. on Saturday.