The E.S. Laird Middle School Sabres, with back row from left, coach McKenzie King, Erica Diehl, Terissa Wright, Darby Robertson, Olivia Mann, Emily Butz, coach Tanya Robertson; front row, Abby Kirsch, Brooklyn Bloch-Hanson, Anna Collins, Tatum Whitford, Janszel Dagnan and Angela Himalolo-an, beat the Holy Rosary Raiders 52-32 for the 2018 North West High School Athletic Association 2A junior girls basketball title. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
The E.S. Laird Middle School Sabres are the 2018 North West High Schools Athletic Association 2A junior girls basketball champions.
“We weren’t the strongest at the beginning,” said Sabres guard Darby Robertson. “We’ve got a lot of Grade 7’s and newcomers, but it’s been good. We got better throughout the year and really pushed through this weekend.”
Robertson scored 16 points on way to guiding the Sabres to a 52-32 win against the Holy Rosary High School Raiders in the district final at E.S. Laird Middle School on Saturday afternoon.
The Sabres controlled the play throughout the contest by roaring to an early 7-2 lead and 29-16 advantage at the half, before bringing home the title on a 14-7 run during the third quarter.
“It was totally an offensive and defensive shutdown on both ends,” said Sabres coach McKenzie King. “They did phenomenally well and I’m really proud of them. I’m very happy with the game that they played.”
Abby Kirsch put the Sabres up 4-0 moments into the opening quarter on two good foul shots and a short jumper from inside the key.
Kirsch then drew two more trips to the line as the Raiders got into foul trouble.
Raiders point guard Sarah Schwab said they stayed on focus despite the early calls against. She noted their shooting improved as a result with the team’s offensive game picking up momentum as the match wore on.
Schwab played a big part in the Raiders scoring prowess draining nine points during the game including a lay up off a rush in the second quarter to bring her team’s deficit under 10 points.
Sabres’ Terissa Wright found an open lane down the middle shortly before Angela Himalolo-an scored a long two from near the sidelines to increase the lead to 13 by halftime.
That late momentum carried over into the third quarter with the Sabres notching eight straight points to begin the second half.
The Raiders mounted a comeback in the fourth, but the deficit proved too great to overcome.
“The girls were able to provide help when help was needed and they were able to shut them down and keep them to outside shots,” said King. “Our offence was explosive and they made their shots. Terissa Wright was fantastic on the free throw line for us. So, it was awesome all around.”
The Sabres district win comes two days after the team captured the Lloydminster League championship with a one-basket victory against the Bishop Lloyd Middle School Lancers. Robertson noted they operated a full-court press against the Lancers in the league final, but resorted to a half-court stand in order to get past their rivals early Saturday morning in the district semifinals.
“We pushed through our hardest,” said Robertson, a Sabres’ returning player from last year’s squad that lost to the Lancers in the district championship. “We did a different offensive and defensive thing. We changed it today, which helped us.”