Last tune-up before zones for Raiders

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March 2, 2016 9:15 AM

The Holy Rosary Raiders boys' basketball team took second place at their home tournament over the weekend, their last tournament before zone playoffs in two weeks in Fort McMurray.

Both of Holy Rosary’s basketball teams will enter zones in two weeks as the top seeded team. Against teams from Cold Lake, Bonnyville, Lac La Biche, and St. Paul, the Raiders have got the better share of the victories this season, so a trip to provincials looks to be in the cards.

In their final tune-up for the zone tournament, which will be played in Fort McMurray this year, Holy Rosary hosted their own invitational tournament and learned some valuable lessons along the way.

For the boys’ team, they defeated Cold Lake, 60-47, Maidstone, 112-56 and Eagleview, 60-53, to find a place in the final, but went cold shooting from the field and the foul line in a close 69-64 loss to the Bethlehem Stars from Saskatoon, a team that has gone undefeated this season. Despite the loss and second place finish in their home tournament, for boys’ head coach Mike Kardas, it’s all about what the Raiders will do in zones in Fort McMurray.

“I told the guys in our post game, ‘be discouraged, but not too discouraged’,” said Kardas. “Our goal is to win zones. We want to go to Fort McMurray in two weeks and play the same way we played (here), make a few more shots and we’ll be fine.”

With six of their nine players being Grade 10, Kardas wants the team heading to Olds for the provincial tournament in order for them to gain the experience they will need moving forward into Grade 11 and 12.

Bethlehem was heavy with Grade 12 players and is one of the top teams in Saskatchewan basketball, which gives the Raiders confidence moving forward that they were within five points of them on Saturday night.

Gaining experience seems to be what the Raiders basketball program is about this year, as the girls’ team, who opened the tournament with a 39-36 victory over the Lloydminster Comprehensive Barons before losing their next two, continues to play without any Grade 12 player on the team.

Like the boys’ team, the girls will head into zones as the top ranked team and have the same goal of wanting to make it to the provincial tournament.

In the bronze medal game against Viking, the Raiders lost a close 43-40 decision. While the Holy Rosary girls didn’t bring home a banner from their own tournament, they learned the valuable lesson that there are no easy games from here on out.

“If you want to win at zones and be competitive at provincials, you got to put in a full 40 (minutes) and you got to take those licks and you got to be produce,” said head coach Josh Lyons. “This weekend was a lesson in not doing quite enough, but still putting in the effort.”

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