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Hoopla Gold, 30 years in the making

Preeceville High School girls triumphed over everyone with a Hoopla Gold in the 2A division.
The Preeceville School senior girls’ basketball team brought home the prestigious gold medal and banner from the Hoopla in Moosejaw on March 23. Team members from left, were: (back row) Arlene Prestie, coach, Addison Danielson, Lexi Prouse, Maggie Bartel, Tess Covlin, Sarah Masko, Alexis Firman, Amber Spray, Kacey Heskin and Cliff Prestie, coach; and, (front) Cassidy Paterson and Gabby Murray.

PREECEVILLE — The Preeceville School senior girls' basketball team fought the battle of a lifetime when it came to bringing the gold home.

Their plight began at the beginning of their season through defeating higher ranked teams to be ranked number two going into the biggest challenge and quest of their lives. The momentum leading up to Hoopla was damped with the possibility of the provincial match-up being cancelled by the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation as part of its teacher’s sanctions fight with the Government of Saskatchewan.

Teams from across the province stood proudly together and had their voices heard when the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association (SHSAA) announced that Hoopla would go forward but instead of a two-day tournament it would be a one-day event. Hoopla was held in Moose Jaw on March 23.

The last time Preeceville senior girls had the opportunity to go to Hoopla and brought home a silver medal was in 1997.

The Preeceville girls rejoiced as they would be playing for the gold due to their number two ranking. They squared off against St. Brieux who they had previously played against in a tournament in St. Brieux early in March and had lost to in that final match.

“With previously playing St. Brieux we knew what we were in for,” stated Arlene Prestie, coach. “We were on top of our game, with the girls playing well and shutting down their defence and offence. The game was very intense and close at the end of the first quarter. It was in the second half of the game that we really pulled away, made great shots and dominated the rest of the game. The final score at the buzzer recorded as 64-43 for Preeceville.

“We did not expect the huge support from Preeceville fans that saw students and staff from Preeceville, past and present, and family and friends who showed up to cheer us on. It was amazing the atmosphere was electrifying and the team spirit was a factor of helping us to win the gold,” concluded Prestie.  

The Preeceville School senior boys also had the opportunity to advance to Hoopla but due to their number three ranking they played for the bronze medal. This meant that they would have their own battle as they took on their neighbouring team, Norquay in a battle of the season.

“Both teams came out with a fast pace to the game, but struggled to score in the first few minutes,” stated Jay Steppan, coach.

“The Panthers had a rough start to the game and Norquay was leading 16-9 after the first quarter.

The Panthers had a better offensive second quarter, however, Norquay seemed to make every shot they took. The Norquay players shot very well and had a great first half. They lead the Panthers 40-27 at the half.

It could have been very easy for the Preeceville boys to give up down 13 at the half, against a great Norquay team, but Preeceville had their best quarter of the day, outscoring Norquay 21-14 in the 3rd to get them back in the game, 54-48. The rest of the game up until the last two minutes was both teams battling hard and Preeceville closed the gap to only a four point lead late in the 4th quarter. But three clutch and three-point shots in the final minutes of the game sealed the victory for the Norquay Knights,” said Steppan.

“Even despite the loss. It was an incredible season by our Preeceville Panthers. At the start of the season, many people and others involved with basketball didn’t give us a chance to win many games, and HOOPLA was completely out of the conversation. But the boys proved many wrong, as each of the boys improved a lot throughout the season. They worked hard and definitely earned their top four spot in the province. We are sad to see our grade 12s go (Tristan Acosta, JP Somera, Noah Carroll, Matthew Korney and Nathan Newbery) as they have contributed a lot to our team and program throughout the years.

We thank all of the parents and fans for all of their support this season. And we are so proud of all that the boys have accomplished this season, and the young men they are,” said Jay Steppan.