By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
The Hawks senior girl basketball team tipped off their new season inside the friendly confines of the Holy Cross Collegiate gym.
A pair of former coworkers have teamed up behind the bench of the Hawks this season. Joe Lapage has returned to the coaching chair after leaving Holy Cross Collegiate as their principal nine years ago. Back in the day, he used to coach the senior girls’ program. He was also responsible for hiring the senior boys coach at the time.
“I hired Michelle to teach a long time ago. So it was kind of funny and a role-reversal type of way that she asked me to come help out and coach this season,” said Lapage. “For me, it’s all about the relationships you build with the team and we have some great girls on the team this year.”
Last year’s head coach, Brad Everett, is helping out the junior varsity boys program this year. Also gone from last year’s squad is Yulisa Solda, Alexandra Eygenraam, Cassidy Filipionek and floor general Darcie Weir.
Weir was the catalyst for the offence last year. With her strong rugby background, she took the ball up the floor and barreled toward the hoop through a maze of bodies.
This year, the ball handling duties have appeared to be shifted over to now senior point guard Destiny Stevens and Grade 11 small forward Hope Given.
Given led the way for the Hawks Dec. 2 in the tourney finale with 17 points, as the Hawks downed the Hugh Sutherland School Kodiaks 49-34.
Last year’s offence was a gun fest. Anybody with open space had no conscience at all in hoisting up 3s, contested or not. In the Hawks 15-point win, the Hawks only attempted one 3-pointer and it came at the end of the third quarter.
“Our team this year has some awesome players in the low post. We are going to be driving to the lane, getting position on defenders and trying to get them the ball. We like the percentages of the ball going in better than the percentages of shots from outside going in,” said Lapage. “We’re going to shoot, too, but if we can get the ball down low, then that’s where we will go to work.”
Like most starts to a sports season, it took some time for the Hawks to shake off the rust.
They dropped their opening match 75-30 against the Bassano School. Given recorded six points with Stevens behind her with four points.
In their second game, the Rosemary Rockets dumped the Hawks 62-17. Grade 12 student Taryn Tanton led the way for the Hawks with six points.
“I really liked how positive the girls were all weekend,” said Lapage. “They never got down on themselves, they just kept trying and we pulled out a win in the end. We got better every game, made better passes and found the open man. It was a good start.”
Similar to last year, the Hawks will return to the Foothills Athletic Council for their league games, but will compete in the junior varsity division. However, when they take off for tournament play in the New Year, they will battle in senior-level tourneys, as they prep for the South Central Zone tournament in March.
The senior boys team has the same coach as last season, Josh Jalbert, but is still one week away from playing in any meaningful games.
The Hawks began practising in the final week of November with their new team.
Graduating from last year’s program was Kyle Gerencer, Jericho Ricafort and Luke Sproul, but also missing from this year’s team are a pair of Grade 11s in Reid Jensen and Cordel Steadman.
Jensen was a guard last year and typically ended up with the most shots attempted, while Steadman was a young centre who was developing into a good rebounder.
This season, the offence is sure to run through the Grade 10 Athlete of the Year last year, Alex Nwoye.
The springy guard showed the ability to score from anywhere on the floor last season, and will be joined by Grade 12 students Turner Dirk and Landon Osachuk in leading a young, athletic team.
“I’m excited to see where our potential takes us and to see how much we grow as a team. We have a lot of guys who are fairly new to playing basketball or haven’t played in a long time but are very athletic. It’s good that we have a bunch of practices before games start so we can shake off any rust,” said Jalbert. “From the early onset, it looks like we have good team chemistry and a positive outlook on the season.”
The Hawks will be competing in the senior boys division of the FAC and will host their own tournament Dec. 15 and 16, with one eye down the road at the Zone tournament, which will take place at St. Joseph’s Collegiate in Brooks.