The Swift Current Comp. Senior Ardens basketball team had an up and down weekend on home court as they hosted three quality opponents for a mini tournament Friday and Saturday. The Ardens finished with one win and two losses against a trio of top flight opponents.
Friday, the Ardens knocked off the top ranked North Battleford Vikings. The Ardens fell behind 5-0 early but went on a 20-5 run to take over the lead. North Battleford found their scoring touch in the second quarter and cut the deficit to 27-24 at halftime. The game remained close the rest of the way with the Ardens holding a narrow lead for most of the second half on their way to a 60-56 win.
Grade 12’s Emilie Erlandson and Jocelyn Martin led the Ardens with 10 points apiece.
Saturday, the Ardens had no answer for a talented Lethbridge Catholic Central squad in a 72-29 loss. Erlandson led the Ardens with eight points followed by six from Martin. Lethbridge finished 3-0 to easily win the tournament.
The Ardens faced another tough test in their final game in the form of Saskatoon’s St. Joseph Guardians. The Ardens struggled to score in the first half and could not slow down the outside shooting of the Guardians, who led 34-18 at halftime.
The Ardens turned the game around completely in the third quarter, outscoring the Guardians 16-3 to trail 37-34 heading into the fourth quarter. The two teams were close the rest of the way and the Ardens earned two brief leads with three minutes remaining.
The Ardens could not hold on down the stretch though as they committed four costly turnovers in the final two minutes that led to easy baskets for St. Josephs, who finished up with a 10-0 run to win 53-43.
Grade 12 Shay Smith paced the Arden with 11 points, while Erlandson added eight in the loss.
“I think overall throughout the weekend we played well,” said Smith after the disappointing loss. “This last game had some ups and downs. We came back in the third and then in the last two minutes we had that one lapse. I think overall this weekend was just a really good learning experience because we are going to see these teams in the future.”
“We had our ups and downs,” said coach Megan Jackson. “I think it was a good learning experience for sure. We found our weaknesses and I think the team also figured out a few of their strengths and they did a lot of work on their own without us.”
She added that the team would need to improve on their press break, ball handling, and overall strength with the ball.
“We know that we really need to work on a lot as far as press break, we really need to work on defense, just working together as a team as a whole,” added Smith.
It has been a turnaround season for the Ardens, who now have eight wins and five losses on the campaign.
“They work extremely hard,” said Jackson. “They do what they are asked to do and dig deep when they need to. I shouldn’t say that we are surprised by that but it is really nice to see when it happens.”
The Ardens went unranked in the recent Top-10 independent rankings among 4A teams. North Battleford was ranked number one, meaning the Ardens should make a splash when they debut in the second of three rankings this season. The win could prove to be valuable against a highly touted team that will be in their Conference when the provincial playoffs begin next month.
“As far as confidence I think it was very good. It showed the girls that we can hang with some very well coached skilled teams. That was definitely a big one,” said Jackson.
“That was the highlight probably of the weekend,” said Smith. “The coaches said at the start that this is our big game and it was. I think we are definitely going to see North Battleford again and hopefully we can take another win.”
Jackson didn’t want to put too much stock in the rankings, especially this early in the season when many of the teams have not seen one another yet.
Going unranked has caught the players’ attention though.
“Oh yeah it is definitely extra motivation,” said Smith “We have a lot more opportunities to show everyone how much potential we still have. We are a good team but we are not at our full potential yet and I think we are going to get there. By the end of March hopefully we will be there.”
Smith said a trip to Hoopla in Saskatoon is still the goal. “We need a lot of work but I think we can do it.”
Next up for the Ardens will be a tournament in Saskatoon this weekend where they will get a rematch with St. Joseph in their opening game.