But it was the way they won it all that brought them a second award on Friday afternoon during a special school assembly.
SHSAA executive director Lyle McKellar presented the Vikings with the prestigious SaskMilk sportsmanship award, an honour that is given to one school in each sport in recognition of their actions on the court or field.
“It’s definitely something to be proud of, getting that Sportsmanship Award was a really big thing, we actually put it as a goal to get because we wanted to work hard and be good on the court,” said the Vikings’ Kiean Klein, one of four captains with the 2018 squad. “Honestly (coach Levi) Broda always put it in our mind and we were never really big into selling and all that, we kind of played more humble and worked on ourselves more.”
“We’re all really proud of it, it’s kind of the cherry on top of a really successful season. We’re all really excited about it,” added Ryan Zerff.
The on-court success meant a lot to the team’s veterans, especially winning both the city and provincial titles as seniors.
“It’s definitely a good honour,” said Riley Follensbee. “I’ve been striving to win a provincial title my four years at Vanier and came up short in my basketball career. But it’s nice to do it in a sport I never thought I’d be playing, I only started in my Grade 11 year so it was definitely super-nice.’
The Ned Andreoni gymnasium is ringed with banners from previous teams and their successful seasons. Now having two of their own, two they were responsible for, is a legacy they’ll be proud of for along time.
“It means a lot, it’s really cool to have a banner, something you can come back and see, especially when you were part of the team that won the championship,” said Cooper Cole.
So, looking back on it all a few months later, just how did they do it?
“We always had sort of underlying confidence and we always kept a good level of ‘we knew we could do it’ and that really carried us through, knowing that we had the ability to achieve what we did,” Cole said.
And, of course, plenty of team unity.
“Definitely the chemistry, the pure vibe of the entire team,” added Follensbee. “You walk into gym and everyone is laughing and smiling. We never got down, never got mad, we battled through adversity and always managed to come out on top.”
The Vikings weren’t the only honourees on the day – McKellar also presented cross-country provincial champion Allison Grajczyk-Jelinski with her SHSAA championship banner.
The Vanier senior will be competing for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies track and field team next season.