Silhouettes chase ninth straight SWAC title

Steven Mah
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Basketball has once again taken over the high school sports landscape in the Southwest with a number of intriguing storylines to follow in the girls South West Athletic Conference this season.

The league is down to five teams for the 2007/08 season, a drop of one from six last year with the loss of the Gull Lake Lady Lions. But the challenge remains the same in how to end the Shaunavon Silhouettes' eight year reign atop SWAC.

Basketball has once again taken over the high school sports landscape in the Southwest with a number of intriguing storylines to follow in the girls South West Athletic Conference this season.

The league is down to five teams for the 2007/08 season, a drop of one from six last year with the loss of the Gull Lake Lady Lions. But the challenge remains the same in how to end the Shaunavon Silhouettes' eight year reign atop SWAC.

There is no shortage of star power in SWAC this year, as the top five scorers from last season return.

Samantha Benesh returns to the Silhouettes after leading SWAC last season in scoring as a grade 10 and once again will be one of the top scorers.

Benesh will likely have competition from the likes of Frontier's Tanelle Korsberg and Rachelle Anderson and Maple Creek's Tara Weisgerber and Taylorre Weiss who all finished in the top five in league scoring last season.

Silhouettes grade 12 captain Jaime Cazakoff may be the most complete player in the league with her marksmanship and tough defense as well as a strong supporting cast.

In Swift Current the Junior Ardens are rebuilding, with seven grade nines, while Herbert has some familiar faces including guard Kaitlyn Jahnke as well as a pair of rookie coaches.

Frontier Raiders

If the Frontier Raiders dominating run through the Junior Ardens tournament Dec. 7-8 is any indication the Raiders look focused on knocking the Shaunavon Silhouettes off of their SWAC perch.

Last year the Raiders finished third with a 4-3 record and this season they return eight players who will all be expected to raise the level of their game.

The Raiders feature great team speed and relish the opportunity to get out on the fast break, which is often led by grade 12 guard Tannelle Korsberg and grade 10 guard Hailey Coakley.

The Raiders return plenty of scoring in the form of Korsberg, who was the second leading SWAC scorer last season with 16.4 points per game.

Grade 12 5'7' post Rachelle Anderson, the fifth leading scorer last season with 10.1 points per game, also returns with her well rounded game. She got off to a great start when she posted 33 points in her season debut against Herbert.

Raiders head coach Terry Korsberg acknowledges that not only will his team's perimeter play on offense be crucial, but also that his team's overall team defense will have to become tougher as the season progresses.

The Raiders will rely primarily on their 2-3 zone defense but will also mix things up with man-to-man as well as a zone press from time to time.

Raiders' returnees also include guards Jelaine Geiger and post Lindsey Anderson as well as forwards Erica Keith, Megan Peterson, and Janelle Bennett. Newcomers are grade 10's Kaitlin Heggestad and Amy Webber.

Frontier began their SWAC schedule with an 88-34 win over Herbert last week led by a 33 point outburst from Rachelle Anderson and followed by 16 points from Tanelle Korsberg.

The Raiders are coached by Terry Korsberg and and Darryl Anderson.

Swift Current Junior Ardens

The Swift Current Junior Ardens find themselves in a rebuilding cycle under coach Roberta McIntyre with a young and somewhat inexperienced roster.

Last season the Ardens finished the regular season in fifth spot with a 2-5 record and return only three players from last year's squad.

Grade 12's Kirstie Mann and Kenzie Mallard, along with grade 11 forward Larissa Wandler, will try and replace Alicia Nelson's eight points per game while providing the Jr. Ardens with some much needed experience and leadership.

Grade 10's Leah Kiel and Heather Jackle are both newcomers to the Ardens who will forced into key positions this season.

Seven grade nine rookies round out the lineup with the likes of Jayci Wittmier, Jackie Seidler, Jessy Eben, Megan Rumple, Rachelle Forster, Shayla Roberta, and Taylor Lamb all vying for playing time.

The Ardens will be in tough against the top teams in SWAC but should gain valuable experience for next season when the majority of the players should still be around.

Herbert Lady Laurels

The Herbert Lady Laurels finished in a fourth place tie last season in the regular season with two wins and five losses.

This season the Lady Laurels will be guided by rookie coaches Kim Fast and Randi Unger and will be hoping to be competitive in each game they play.

The Lady Laurels will likely stick to a 2-3 zone defense but may apply full court pressure at times.

On offense Herbert will need contributions from a number of sources but will likely rely on three players.

Grade 11 guard Kaitlyn Jahnke was the eighth leading SWAC scorer last season with 9.7 points per game and has already posted 18 and 16 point games this season

Grade 12 point guard Nerissa Redekop will be looked to help run the offense and put some points on the board.

Jaden Nelson, a grade 11 post, will also be relied upon to share some of the scoring load.

The Laurels will likely be hard pressed to challenge the top three teams in the league but could find themselves in some good games with Swift Current and work their way into a semi-finals appearance where anything can happen in a one game playoff.

Maple Creek Rebelles

Last season the Rebelles finished 6-1 in the regular season and as runners up to the Silhouettes, this season they will likely be pushed by Frontier for that second spot in the regular season and in the championship game.

The Rebelles remain an experienced squad with a number of talented returnees and will feature a full court press as well as man-to-man and zone defensive schemes.

Key returnees to the Rebelles includes Taylorre Weiss who finished third in SWAC scoring last season with 14.3 points per game.

Weiss is joined by Tara Weisgerber who was the fourth leading scorer in SWAC last season with 14.0 points per game. Weisgerber is a strong athlete who plays in the low post on offense and in the middle of the Rebelles zone defense.

Rebelles coach Todd Anaka describes the team as a group that likes to have a lot of fun and hopes that the fan support of the Rebelles continues to grow.

Maple Creek began their season with an 80-40 win over the Herbert Lady Laurels led by 35 points from Weisgerber and 24 from Weiss.

Shaunavon Shadows

Make no mistake the road to a girls SWAC championship leads straight through the doors of Shaunavon High School.

Last season the eight time defending SWAC champions withstood an early charge and foul troubles from the visiting Maple Creek Rebelles to clinch the league championship with a 53-41 win.

This year's version of the Silhouettes looks poised to make it nine straight championship led by grade 11 reigning SWAC scoring champion Samantha Benesh and grade 12 captain Jaime Cazakoff.

Benesh topped SWAC with 18.3 points per game last season and also led the team in rebounding, blocks, and assists as a grade 10.

Cazakoff, the team captain and one of the top 3A shooters in the province, provides the Silhouettes with great leadership and defense and was second on the team in scoring and assists, while leading the team in steals.

Grade 12 returnees Chalyn Balas and Bailey Island return as strong all-around players who are quick guards that can lead the fast break.

Alex Colins and Michaela Kessy can score and rebound out of the forward position.

Sierra Benesh is a grade nine newcomer who has already been selected as part of the Canada Basketball program as part of the provincial basketball program who will look to make a name for herself this season.

The Shadows will look to play an up-tempo game this season to take advantage of the team's speed.

The Silhouettes are guided this season by Mark Benesh and Tim Miller.

Organizations: Frontier Raiders, Shaunavon High School, Canada Basketball

Geographic location: Swift Current, Maple Creek, Gull Lake Bailey Island

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