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YRHS, SHHS meet up in conference finals

By Jeff Schneberk Staff Write
Senior basketball action from Balgonie.

Four teams were matched up in this year's SHSAA Senior Boys' Basketball Conference play over the weekend in Balgonie.

The top two schools would advance to Regionals, scheduled for next weekend in various parts of the province.

Conference play also meant one more time in which the Yorkton Regional and Sacred Heart clubs got together.

Melville and Balgonie also played Saskatchewan High Schools Athletics Association (SHSAA) action. In early games, Yorkton Regional beat Melville 79-60 and Sacred Heart edged Balgonie 73-69. Justin Genaille was the top scorer for SHHS with 19 points.

That put YRHS and SHHS into the championship game, which Sacred Heart won 70-68.

"Our guys were definitely tired," insisted Garrett Karcha of the SHHS Saints. "It was (another) close game with the Regional."

Karcha said the tournament had breaks in the schedule as lengthy as four hours long, including one for the YRHS.

SHHS had a couple hours in between their games.

He said the game with YRHS literally came down to the last possession. According to Karcha, an awful lot transpired with only 17 seconds left on the clock. He said his club had a hefty lead early into it but also cautioned that "no lead is (ever) safe."

Truer words have never been spoken. In two previous meetings between the clubs, SHHS jumped out to an early lead, once as high as 18 points; one of those games went into overtime.

YRHS won both of those games but at conference play, SHHS came away with the win.

"We prepared for them differently," he said. "Preston (Liebrecht) came back (too)," he said of one of SHHS's top athletes in several sports.

"Everybody played well," added Karcha, who declined to name names, did say it was one of the best wins the team has had because they found a way to hold onto a lead.

"This is the most satisfying victory so far this season. It counts for something. We finally won a game where we had a lead."

Yorkton Regional coach Jason Payne said before that SHHS has a strong team, and this time out it was no different, adding that they got a little back following two losses against YRHS this season.

"Their kids came out real hard. They won some revenge."

Karcha said the final score, which was 70-68, came down to the last seconds when YRHS started to close in and make the Sacred Heart lead a little too close for anyone's comfort.

"They started creeping in," recalls Karcha, adding that "we were missing our free throws."

YRHS fouled the Saints' Logan Coutts with 17 seconds left.

"He missed both," said Karcha, but teammate Mark Kuemper tipped it to Dalen (Brueckner) and he put the Saints back up by five.

YRHS came right back with a huge three-pointer, "We hit a three," says Payne, when Tanner Kardynal brought the Raiders back into it; Payne said it was no surprise to see who hit it.

"He's a kid who spends just about every free minute he has shooting," offers Payne of Kardynal.

YRHS had final possession of the night but couldn't inch any closer.

"It was exciting," said Karcha following the game. "Our bench has never been so excited."

"I don't think anyone was expecting us to win it," suggested SHHS's Kuemper, who was also the high scorer for his team. 'We wanted to take care of the ball more (and we did). It was a good win but now we need to focus on the regionals" in which he added that utilizing their "transitional offence" will no doubt be key.

Next Up
The Sacred Heart Saints now head to North Battleford where they will tangle with Peacock (Moose Jaw) in regional play.

The #9-ranked YRHS Raiders take to Saskatoon where they will play the #8-ranked Carlton (Prince Albert).

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