Wildcats repeat as provincial AA hoops champs

Alex Chester of the Warren Collegiate Institute Wildcats drives past Rory Davis (#1) and Lexi Hawryluk of the Goose Lake High School Angels. Chester, who was named tournament MVP, scored 14 points in a 56-41 win over the Angels in the final of the Manitoba High School Athletic Association Provincial AA Varsity Girls Basketball Championship in Sagkeeng First Nation, Man. on March 16, 2019. (Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times)

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For the second straight year, the Warren Wildcats varsity girls’ basketball team are provincial champions.

Tournament all-star and player of the game Grace Goodman scored a game-high 17 points and the Wildcats held the Goose Lake Angels scoreless for over four minutes in the fourth quarter as Warren defeated the Roblin-based team 56-41 in the final of the MHSAA Provincial AA Varsity Girls Basketball Championship at Sagkeeng Anicinabe High School on March 16.

Alex Chester, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, added 14 points for the Wildcats and Laura Brad, another all-star, scored 12 more for Warren on their way to capturing the school’s ninth provincial banner in varsity girls basketball.

Rayna Ramsay had 12 points for Goose Lake.

With the win, the team finished their season with a 24-1 record. It is also the first time the Wildcats repeated as provincial champions since winning five straight from 1993 to 1997.

“Everything kind of came together for us this weekend,” Warren head coach Kevin Braun told The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times after the game. “It all started with us on the defensive end. If we could get some good stops on defence and get our transition offence into play, then that’s when good things happen.”

The Wildcats began the tournament as the top seed and faced the eighth-seeded hosts Sagkeeng Anicinabe Wolves, where Warren dismantled them 72-31 on March 14  to advance to the semifinal against The King’s School Knights.

The fifth-seeded Knights, with only seven players and none in Grades 11 or 12, proved to be a formidable opponent for Warren. Despite the Wildcats leading 35-20 at halftime, the Knights narrowed the margin to 41-40 after three quarters and even led 46-45 with 6:23 left to play. Warren later regained the lead and with the score 54-53 with less than two minutes left, their defence held strong and finished the game with a 54-53 victory to advance to the gold medal game.

The Angels scored the first four points of the gold medal game, but despite numerous turnovers on both sides, the Wildcats led 14-10 after the first quarter. The second quarter went back and forth with Warren’s lead down to 22-20 at the half.

Goose Lake took the lead early in the third quarter, but Jordan Schott’s three-pointer gave the Wildcats a 30-28 lead midway through the quarter. Warren took momentum afterwards, leading 39-31 going into the fourth. The Angels pulled to 40-36 early in the fourth, but Warren regained their momentum by driving to the basket and drawing fouls, going on a 9-0 run. Goose Lake had no answers on offence and two of their players, Cara Orr and Samantha Kringle, later fouled out.

“This was our second year and we worked really hard for it,” Chester, who was named player of the game for the Wildcats in their previous two games, said after the game. “Coming back in our Grade 12 year, finishing high school with a win, it feels really good. It was really frustrating in this game and I’m just happy I came out, in the end, good.”

Chester, Goodman, Brad, Schott, Darrien Bullied and Madeline Boonstra (who did not play due to injury) are graduating this year.

Kringle and her teammate Brittany Jarvis were named to the tournament all-star team as well as Hope Dixon of the Knights. Elizabeth Todd of the Knights received the Players’ Choice Award.

The Teulon Saints also competed in the tournament, where they finished in fourth place after a 73-41 loss to The King’s School Knights in the bronze medal game contested earlier in the day.