By Kenyon Stronski
Sunny South News
Following a tournament win this past weekend against Heritage Christian, Webber Academy (third ranked in 2A) and Stirling School (fourth ranked in 2A), the second place team Kate Andrews Varsity Boys basketball team is riding high and hopeful to carry their momentum into zones.
Kendall Wiens, head coach for the basketball team, has been coaching the varsity program for four years, and when this particular group was getting older he knew something special would be waiting by the time they hit their senior years.
“I have 10 Grade 12’s alongside this year and I coached all of them last year on the senior team at least in some manner, but one or two didn’t see much time. We started off this season with a team retreat by going out to Southern Alberta Battle Camp and spent the weekend there playing as a team, and working on our plays but really just spending a lot of time together. Eight of them have played together since Grade 7 and then two joined us in Grade 10 so they know each other quite well and get along quite well.”
Also joining the team is one player from Grade 11 and one from Grade 10 to round out the 10-man roster. Swinging into their league and tournament play, the team boasts a record of 24 wins and two losses.
With zones looming, Wiens said the team needs to continue to do what they’re doing and keep playing to the roster’s strengths – keeping up the pace. With some amazing shooters and athletic boys, when they’re playing ball there isn’t a team Kate Andrews can’t gas out.
“At provincials there’s some teams that have just big, physical guys. We’ll continue to keep playing as fast as we can but in regards to fixing things and little tweaks here and there, we definitely need to improve on the rebounding end. As a team that wants to get out and run the floor we sometimes leak a little early and don’t get after the boards first. We saw this team coming in Grade 9 and we knew they’d be special so over the last four years we’ve adjusted the program so it would be ready for them. It allows them to just play ball, it’s not me calling things or running sets I just trust them to move the ball and be aggressive. It’s a very free-flowing line that just lets the players work. This is by far the strongest group I have ever coached. They just had a ton of talent coming in so we’re definitely going to miss them. We do have a decent crew coming up but this is definitely our year to make a run at the championship for sure.”
Alongside incredible talent, Wiens stressed the high level of integrity and humility the roster has on and off the court, with character being the thing he’s most proud of.
“We were playing against Webber Academy, and we were up two with about a minute left and there was a deflection and the ref called it to give us the ball, but our Co-Captain Nate Shipton stepped up and said he touched it. To see that kind of integrity in a game that meant so much for rankings at the end of the year, that was a super proud moment. We get comments game after game saying they’re impressed with the talent and abilities of the roster, but also how humble they are. They’re just enjoying it and being respectful and how they do it – that’s where they’re special.”
Later, Wiens accentuated this statement saying, “In a day where sportsmanship seems to be a lost art, this crew continues to set an example for the younger players in our program, community, and all those that have had the opportunity to watch them play.”
“Parent’s are another big thing with this crew, we have a super supportive group of parents that are super high-quality, supportive, encouraging and that shows in the way their kids act. I think we have the best parent fans in Alberta. I also have a group of four other coaches that have been a huge help this year.”
When the team finally busses off to zones, Wiens said some of their toughest competition will be W.R. Myers and Stirling – noting that Myers is a gritty team that battles to no end, and Stirling has some strong shooters and plays with pace.
Coming up for games, their league finals are this Wednesday, March 1 at Kate Andrews come 7:45 p.m. They will be celebrating their seniors before playing against Coaldale Christian who is the number one ranked 1A team and after that zones will be March 6 to 11 at the Lethbridge College.