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Basketball athletes across the province rejoice

Preeceville School senior athletes voices were heard and prayers were answered when the door opened for them to play one game at Hoopla this year.

PREECEVILLE — Young basketball athlete voices across the province joined together with one task at hand and that was to change the minds of STF and SHSAA in reversing their original decision to cancel Hoopla.

Teams from Preeceville and Norquay boarded a bus on March 19 where they stood their ground in Saskatoon along with other teams across the province to protest in front of the STF headquarters. It was disappointing as their voices were not heard and just seemly shrugged off, stated Cassidy Paterson, a Preeceville School senior girl basketball member and Grade 12 member.

The following day, March 20, three girls from Preeceville, Cassidy Paterson, Amber Spray and Gabby Murray travelled to Regina where they were invited to the Legislature building to talk to the education minister, Jeremy Cockrill. “We were made to feel very welcomed as he listened to what we had to say,” stated the trio.

Later in the afternoon on March 20, the SHSAA announced that a one-day tournament to be held March 23 with the top two seeded ranked teams in each category playing for the gold and silver with the bottom two teams playing for the bronze.

The Preeceville senior girls will take on St. Brieux for the gold and silver. Preeceville senior boys will play for the bronze medal against their neighbours Norquay. This will be the Preeceville senior girls’ first trip back to Hoopla since 1997 as both teams made the schools history of both advancing to Hoopla;

"Even though it’s not the same, I am still glad that we have the opportunity to partake in a provincial basketball game this Saturday. I noticed that on the SHSAA website it said 'HOOPLA is cancelled' and later in their write-up, they announced a one-day provincial tournament would be held," said Sarah Masko, a Preeceville senior girls basketball member. "I’ve never been to HOOPLA before, but I know that it takes many months of planning. I am very happy that there are no sanctions on Saturday and that SHSAA has decided to let us play even if it is not what they’d originally planned! I am so excited to be able to participate in provincials and make school history with the boys and girls both going! This is amazing, and I am so grateful for every phone call made, email sent, and protestor voicing their opinion. I know that it all made a big difference and that it is why we get to play this weekend.”

“It is unfortunate that both parties were unable to get a deal done, and very unfortunate that the STF purposely cancelled extracurricular on Hoopla days, but I am thankful to SHSAA for standing up for the students and making a way for this all to happen,” said head coach Jay Steppan, from the Preeceville senior boys basketball team. "It is so nice, especially for the grade 12s to be able to finish off the season and for us to play for a medal. Hats off to SHSAA for organizing this all and we look forward to having the opportunity to play at Hoopla again."

"We are grateful that our SHSAA executive understands how important this opportunity is for our kids. And the message of our players and parents delivered to the STF, the Minister of Education and to the media was heard. It will be a great game,” said Arlene Prestie, head coach for the Preeceville senior girl’s basketball team.