The Briercrest Christian Academy Cougars have had the kind of high school girls basketball season where it would be easy to look the other way when it came to picking top teams in the league.
After all, a 4-4 record is about as middle-of-the-road as you can get.
But away from Moose Jaw high school basketball league gymnasiums, the Cougars have been quietly winning — a lot. To the point that their losses in the local loop have been pretty much their only setbacks all season.
Combine that with a steady run of improvement from the start of the campaign, and you have the recipe for a playoff upset or two when things get down to the nitty gritty.
And sure enough, the basketball gods were smiling on Caronport on Tuesday night, as they took a 66-50 over the second-seeded Central Cyclones in girls league semifinal action at Central.
“It was good, the girls played hard,” said Cougars coach Leigh Wolverton. “We’ve been improving a lot through the season and it was nice to see the girls put it all together. We’re still not shooting as well as we’d like to, but we have some games where we do okay and some games where we have to work really hard.”
Things were as close as could be in the early going, as the teams found themselves tied 19-19 late in the second quarter. The Cougars took over from there, though, stringing together a 16-3 run to lead 35-22 at the half.
Central never got closer than 15 the rest of the way as BCA continuously found a way to respond to any Cyclones offensive pressure.
That’s been the case much of the season for the Cougars, especially when it came to tournament play – Wolverton pointed to their five losses all season as an example of that.
“So we’ve been doing well and they’ve been getting more and more confident,” he said. “Our half court offence is where we need to get a little more confident, our transition and our defence I’m really happy with.”
The other semifinal wasn’t as close, as the top-seeded Peacock Toilers (8-0) took a 67-22 win over the Vanier Spirits. That sets up a rematch the Cougars have been looking forward to ever since a recent two-point loss earlier this season.
“We want another rematch with Peacock, we just have to get some subs in,” Wolverton said. “Peacock might try and run five girls and we just flagged out at the end of games. So we’ve been working on that and we’ll see how it turns out.”
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The boys semifinal between the Vanier Spirits and Peacock Toilers saw a mild upset, as the third-seeded Spirits took a 75-52 win at Peacock. Seeing as both teams were 5-3 on the season and had close games in the past, it was a matter of which team would come out and play well on the night.
It was the Vikings’ turn Tuesday, and as a result they’ll take on the top-seed juggernaut Central Cyclones (8-0) in the final after Central’s 120-39 victory over Briercrest Christian.
“The last time we played (Peacock), we played a little bit flat and everyone was flustered, we were all over the map,” said Vanier assistant coach Jayson Tomashewski. “We worked on locking that down the last couple of weeks and tonight it was a fantastic effort… we came out and played the game we’re used to playing, got back to basics and it worked.”
The Vikings led 18-11 after the first quarter before putting on a defensive clinic in the second, holding Peacock to only two field goals and taking a 43-17 lead.
“They did everything we asked them to do and they were right there in the game when it counted,” Tomashewski said. “We hit a flat spot there a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been building from there. It’s looking good and we’re looking forward to that final game now.”
The championship finals take place Tuesday.