The Dawson Creek Secondary senior boys and girls’ basketball teams will look to play spoiler this weekend as the Penguins play host to the ‘AAA’ north-central zone championships.
Both squads enter their respective tournaments as the bottom seed, ranked fourth, and will be in tough when they take to the hardwood against the tournaments’ top seeds.
On the girls’ side, the Pens’ will need their best game when they take on the defending zone champs, the Prince George Secondary (PGSS) Polars, who are favoured once again to earn the sole available provincial berth.
“They [Polars] have a lot of height and speed so we have to be on our game,” said Penguins head coach Emily Rivard about her squad’s first-round matchup on Thursday.
“We are going to have to play solid basketball. Make sure they finish on offence, work hard on defence and play well as a team,” Rivard added.
For seniors, Sidney Sandness, and sisters Tana and Danelle Gibson, the tournament could be the last of their high school careers.
Tana says nothing would be sweeter than to pull off an upset tournament win and go to provincials in her final year.
“It would be beyond amazing,” she said on Tuesday during one of the Pens’ last practices, “It would be crazy, I’d be so excited to get first. We have some tough teams to play but I think we are prepared mentally,” she added.
Gibson has been with the team since Grade 10, and says the squad has improved every year, with hopes to prove they are more than a fourth seed. If they aren’t able to get past the Polars, Gibson says the Pens’ still want to settle the rivalry between the them and North Peace Secondary.
“It was frustrating losing our tournament to them,” said Gibson about falling short to the Ookapiks 38-29 in the finals of the DCSS tourney in December. “Right now we are tied for wins and losses at 3-3 and we want to have the chance to play them again. I think overall we are better team. They are able to frustrate us easily, so we just have to play strong.”
North Peace begins their tournament as the second seed and will face the Correlieu Clan of Quesnel in Thursday’s Game 2 of the first round.
As for the Penguins boys’ team, they will meet NPSS in the first round. The North Peace Oscars enter the tourney ranked number one ahead of Correlieu (#2) and PGSS (#3).
The Oscars have won four of the five tournaments they played this season, including the 16-team Wolves Senior Basketball Classic in Grande Prairie.
DCSS senior boys head coach, Richard Payne, said the Pens’ will have to keep the Oscars’ weapons in check
“We just have to shut them down early, we can’t spot them 25 [points] to start the game,” said Payne, whose team has lost all three meetings with the Oscars this season.
“To keep them on even keel would be a good thing. We want to keep them to the outside, have to keep them off the glass and shut down their guard play.”
Zones begin tonight with both Penguin teams kicking off their tournaments at 6:00 p.m. The senior boys are at the DCSS campus, while the girls’ first round will be played at the Ron Pettigrew gym. Play resumes on Friday and ends Saturday evening with the girls’ finals at 3:00 p.m. and the boys’ at 5:00 p.m.