Ardens gearing up for home tournament

Steven Mah
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A young Ardens basketball team will enter their home tournament with a 4-2 record so far this season

"Colts & Ardens"

The Swift Current Comp. Senior Ardens basketball team will get their first chance to play in front of their hometown fans this weekend when they host their annual home tournament.

The Ardens, who feature six veterans and six rookies, opened their season with a silver medal in Estevan on November 29-30. They were in Caronport this past weekend and opened the tournament with a 57-49 win over Birch Hills on Friday. “Considering we put ourselves in a 16-2 hole in the first five minutes of the game I was proud of the way the girls continued to play hard and got themselves back in the game,” explained Ardens head coach Andrew Herrick.

Grade 11 guard Katie Darlington-Kuebler led the team with 17 points and grade 10 guard Jade Addai chipped in eight points.

They were bounced from title contention that evening with a 72-41 loss to Indian Head. “Indian Head is a fundamentally sound team and they executed very well in the first half,” said Herrick. “In the second half we adjusted to their level of intensity and played them even which gave us some momentum going into the third place game.”

Addai led the Ardens with 18 points in the loss and Darlington-Kuebler added nine points.

The Ardens won their tournament finale on Saturday, defeating Estevan 55-49 without their three grade 12’s, who were back in Swift Current for the grad winter banquet. Both teams were without key pieces and played with only eight players. The Ardens trailed 40-35 heading into the fourth quarter but outscored Estevan 20-9 to earn the win.

“In the fourth quarter the girls really buckled down and decided to play together on defense which helped us score some easy baskets with our transition game,” said Herrick.

Addai led the Ardens with 21 points and grade nine Mackenzie Froehlich added eight points.

Grade 12 guard Shae-Lynn Bolton suited up in the Ardens’ first two games in Caronport.

"I thought that we had a slow start in both games. Then when everyone just comes together and everyone gives that positive energy on the court and on the bench, then we just really pick it up and come together as a team and get things done and we come back."

The third-year Arden would like to see her team get off to better starts as the season progresses.

"I think we need to get more focused in our warm-up and start thinking about what we need to do and what our role is before the game even starts so that we are mentally prepared for the tip-off."

The Ardens will head into their home tournament with a 4-2 record early in the season. "Well offence wins games and defense wins championships, so definitely we are working on our defence and making sure that our defence is strong, because if you have good defence you can win," said Bolton.

"I think our identity would be speed, getting those transition layups and coming at a team before they get set up for defense," Bolton added.

The Ardens will open the tournament Friday at 2:35 p.m. against the Shaunavon Silhouettes. The winner of that game will play in the semi-final on Saturday at 11:40 a.m., while the loser will play in the consolation semi-final at 8:30 a.m.

The championship game is slated for Saturday at 7:35 p.m. "Our goal is to hopefully end up in the final and hopefully win. We need to make sure that we are improving every game and that we know what we need to work on," said Bolton.

Rounding out the eight-team field will be the Moose Jaw Vanier Vikings, Estevan Elecs, Weyburn Eagles, Moose Jaw Central Cyclones, Yorkton Regionals Lady Raiders, and Regina Luther College Lions.

The Ardens won silver last year at home with a narrow loss to Weyburn in the championship game. They are looking to take advantage of their home court advantage once again and are hoping that a quiet sporting calendar in Swift Current this weekend will lead to some large crowds.

"Yeah it helps when your home crowd is there cheering you on. When you are out there playing you just feel all that energy and you have adrenaline. All the energy makes you play better and that big gym is really intimidating to other teams," said Bolton.

Organizations: SCCHS, SHSAA, Ardens Basketball

Geographic location: Swift Current, Caronport, Indian Head Estevan Birch Hills Moose Jaw Yorkton Weyburn

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