ESTEVAN - The Estevan Comprehensive School (ECS) Elecs' senior girls' basketball team finished second at its 10th annual Victor Elias Memorial Shoot for a Cure tournament, held Friday and Saturday at the school.
But as is the case with previous editions, the tournament was about more than just basketball.
Not only was the event a chance for the six teams entered to showcase their basketball skills, but it is a fundraiser for the fight against cancer. Teams don pink jerseys and other pink attire, and there was a raffle and more.
ECS defeated the Yorkton Regional High School Raiders 66-41 in their opening game of the tournament – a game that ECS led 17-2 at one point in the first quarter. The Elecs also outscored Yorkton 17-1 in the fourth quarter.
Their next game was a 63-61 loss to North Battleford – a game that the Elecs had a chance to win on their final possession. Then they lost 60-52 to Moose Jaw Central Cyclones.
Since a couple of teams had to pull out of the tournament due to weather issues, the Elecs had to modify the tournament schedule and format. Despite the 1-2 record, coach Bridget Bjorndalen said Estevan was listed as second based on total points.
Moose Jaw Central was classified as the winner.
“I don’t believe that we have actually hit our peak yet,” said Bjorndalen. “I think the girls are just finally starting to come up on playing to the best of their abilities. Offensively we started to finally gel as a team. We’re sharing the ball with one another, and the girls are just starting to trust each other on the court and off the court.”
Bjorndalen believes the North Battleford game was their best of the three at Shoot for a Cure.
“They were a pretty tough team. They had some pretty skilled athletes,” said Bjorndalen.
ECS had a chance to win on their final possession. Bjorndalen called a time out with five seconds remaining and set up a play for the potential game-winning three-point shot. It just missed after bouncing around the rim a couple of times.
Proceeds from the tournament will be directed to the cancer fight of Cara Hauber, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her daughter is a student at the Comp., and knows many members of the Elecs' senior girls basketball team.
The Elecs paid tribute to Hauber before the game and the senior team members presented her with a quilt. Hauber was described as a fighter who will always be part of the senior girls basketball family.
Prior to the start of the Estevan-Yorkton game, members of both teams lined up on the court with pink balloons. The balloons had the name of someone each player knows who is battling cancer. Members of both teams then released the balloons in the air.
It was noted that the concept of tournaments like shoot for a cure in Saskatchewan started more than a decade ago in Assiniboia, when a basketball coach wanted to fundraise for a former basketball player from Fillmore who had cancer. Elecs head coach Jessie Smoliak is originally from Fillmore and wanted to carry on the awareness.
Many other communities have held fundraising tournaments since that time.
Estevan’s tournament is named in honour of Smoliak’s father Victor Elias, who died from cancer a few years ago after a 24-year fight.
Bjorndalen isn’t sure how much money they raised, as the loss of a couple of teams did hurt the fundraising efforts, but she said the raffle was still well-supported.
“I’m still really proud of our community and the teams that were there,” said Bjorndalen. “They were donating and putting in names for the raffle draws. It all goes to a good cause at the end of the day.”