CANORA - The Canora Composite School Cougars junior girls basketball team put in a strong all-around effort at both ends of the court against the visiting Kamsack Spartans on Feb. 1, and came away with a dominant 40-15 victory.
The Cougars shut out the Spartans 11-0 in the first quarter, and stretched that advantage to 25-5 at halftime. Kamsack scored 10 points in the second half, but the final outcome was never really in doubt. Rebekah Thomas, who coaches the Cougars along with fellow CCS alumni Saryn Leson and Megan Barteski, said the Cougars are continuing to improve with each passing game.
“It was a good game for our Grade sevens to get out on the court and experience the game all together, rather than one of them getting thrown in with a line of Grade eights and nines,” said Thomas. “Our team was able to put what we have been working on in practice into a game setting and be successful in applying it.”
Thomas said defence has been a team focus during practices, and she was pleased to see that hard work pay off by holding Kamsack to only 15 points.
“Our girls have a strong defence because we worked on positioning and moving for multiple practices. We, as coaches, made sure to remind the girls how important it is to have a strong defence in games in order to do well. We used various methods and drills to achieve a stronger defence and have the girls working and moving together so that it remains intact.”
The results for the Cougars are continuing to improve as the season goes on and the players spend more time together on the court, both in practices and games.
“Since there are Grade sevens who had never played a game of basketball before, it took a bit of work to get the cohesiveness that we were looking for,” said Thomas. “We put in a lot of time and effort with the girls and now that we’re in the middle of our season, things are going very well.”
The Cobras had 27 players try out for the team before the start of the season, which Thomas said was both challenging and rewarding.
“Having that much interest in a sport is an amazing thing to see. With such a high number of players trying out, we thought about our decisions a lot. We had a few drills that involved teamwork and communication from the players, which allowed us to see another side of them rather than just focusing on skill. Basketball is a team sport, so for us to build a successful team we needed to make sure that the players we were choosing also had other qualities that they could contribute to the team.”
Thomas said one of her favourite aspects of coaching is seeing progress, both in individual players and as a team.
“It is very rewarding to see what you practiced for a while come together on the court. Since I was a post player in basketball for the Cougars, I have been trying to implement what I learned over the years to start teaching the juniors so they can have that success in the future.”
Having a coaching staff made up of three former Cougars teammates has been a fun experience according to Thomas.
“We can come together and get different perspectives about what we need to work on and how we should achieve that. All three of us were very fortunate to have such a positive high school basketball experience, being coached by Mr. Baillie, so when deciding on how we should approach this season we reflected a lot on Mr. Baillie’s coaching techniques and the impact it had on us. It is very fulfilling getting to come back and coach the sport that had such a big impact on my life, and getting to do it with Megan and Saryn is an awesome reward.”
The Cougars will hit the road for a tournament in Kamsack on Feb. 9-10, followed by conference playoffs in Norquay on Feb. 16.
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