Lady Spartans to host sectionals

The Lady Spartans are preparing to host sectionals after winning last weekend's regional tournament. (Submitted)

ST. STEPHEN — After winning the regional basketball tournament last weekend, the St. Stephen High School Lady Spartans will host sectionals.

At the high school on Feb. 9 and 10, St. Stephen won the six-team Southwest Regional Tournament, which included Rothesay Netherwood, Fundy High School, Carleton North, Woodstock High School and École Sainte-Anne from Fredericton.

In the first round of playoffs, the south and the west meet and determine the seedings for the next round of playoffs,” St. Stephen Coach Don Walker explained.

Because they finished first in the south region, the Lady Spartans earned a bye to the semi-finals where they beat Carleton North 66-53 on Saturday morning. Leading the Lady Spartans was Beth Harris with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Aislyn Burns had 17 points, while Anna Somers and Anna Gaudette both recorded 13 points. Jacey Calder added 14 rebounds.

Noting that the score at halftime was 38-26 in favour of his team, Walker said the semi-final was a hard-fought, physical game.

“They did close the gap a little bit in the second half, but we held on to a pretty comfortable lead,” he said. “We didn’t turn the ball over very much, we didn’t foul very much, we rebounded well and our free throws were good. We set goals for every major category in the game, and we certainly reached a lot of those goals during the game.”

Before the final game on Saturday evening, Rothesay Netherwood School upset Woodstock in the other semifinal.

“That was a great game on that side of the bracket,” said Walker. “We played them three times before. We played them twice with our league schedule and then once in a tournament. They played in the final of our home tournament.”

In the championship game, the Lady Spartans topped Rothesay Netherwood 76-58 to advance to sectionals.

“The final score does not indicate the closeness of the game,” said Walker. “At the end of three quarters, we were only up four points, the score at the half was 37-34 for us. We just had a very strong fourth quarter to pull away.”

Walker said Burns had 23 points, Harris added 18, and despite spraining her ankle in the semifinal, Somers had 17. Gaudette, a Grade 9 student, had 16 points and 12 rebounds, said Walker.

“She had a great game for us,” he said. “She’s been steadily improving as the season has moved forward. She is a very good player and she’s continuing to get better.”

The coach noted that his team played well on both ends of the court.

“We shot well from the three-point line, we were 46 per cent there, and we shot well from the free throw line at 76 per cent,” he said. “We kept our turnovers low and we try to play defence without fouling. We don’t like to be fouling unnecessarily, that’s been a goal of ours. For the most part in that game, we did that.”

On Feb. 16 and 17, St. Stephen High School will host the sectional tournament featuring Carleton North and the Tantramar Titans.

“If you win the regional tournament, which we did, you get to host the following weekend, which is the sectional tournament,” said Walker.

On Friday night at 6 p.m., Tantramar will play Carleton North and the winner will take on St. Stephen in the final game on Saturday at noon.

If St. Stephen wins sectionals, they will go on to compete at the provincial tournament in Saint John on Feb. 24 and 25.

“Harbour Station is basically six games of the final two teams in each category — three boys, three girls and that’s A, AA, AAA,” said the coach. “We were at Harbour Station last year and we are certainly looking forward to getting back if we can. It was a great experience for the girls. We started four kids last year that were non seniors, so we have a fair bit of experience back.”

The challenge right now is to keep the team focused and not looking beyond this weekend, said Walker.

“We spend a lot of time on that about identifying the moment,” he said. “I’ve got five kids in Grade 12 and they’re a great group of kids and they certainly want to finish on a high note. There’s a lot of focus, a lot of intensity and kids are practising hard. We’ll go all this week and we’ll put everything on the line on the weekend and hope for the best.”

Jake Boudrot

A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and a resident of Arichat, Jake Boudrot is an award-winning journalist with decades of experience as a freelancer, reporter and editor representing media outlets across the Maritimes.