Pride shines through Drillers’ injuries

Basketball: Sore Oilfields loses in their tourney final

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 05, 2014 06:00 am

Oilfields’ Rachel Baker drives to the net in the Drillers Senior Girls Basketball tournament final against the Chestermere Lady Lakers Saturday in Black Diamond. The Lakers won the game 57-23.
Oilfields’ Rachel Baker drives to the net in the Drillers Senior Girls Basketball tournament final against the Chestermere Lady Lakers Saturday in Black Diamond. The Lakers won the game 57-23.
Bruce Campbell/OWW

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Driller pride before glory.

The Oilfields Drillers limped into the final of their own senior girls basketball tournament on Saturday in Black Diamond. Although the Drillers didn’t get the glory, their effort clearly impressed the coach of the victors, the Chestermere Lady Lakers.

“We wanted to play them when they had their best players available,” said Lakers coach Brian Utley after their 57-23 victory over the Drillers in the final. “For Oilfields to lose three players is tough.

“But they played hard and didn’t give up, they impressed me with their effort.”

The Drillers kept the emergency room at nearby Oilfields Hospital busy throughout the tourney.

Harley Tucker, one of the taller girls on the team, missed virtually the whole tournament when she took a chin to the eye area and went for seven stitches early in the Drillers 59-48 victory over the Bearspaw Grizzlies out of Calgary on Friday.

Oilfields would have a much bigger loss in their second and final round-robin game when their newest player suffered a severe ankle injury in the Drillers 57-20 victory over the Banff Bears Friday night to put the Black Diamond school into the final.

Jenna Thomson, a recent transfer from Foothills Composite High School, injured her ankle against Banff.

Thomson was playing in just her third game in black-and-gold this season since transferring last week.

“I was just starting to get used to playing with the girls when I broke my ankle,” Thomson said. “I went up for a layup and I landed wrong.”

To add injury to injury, Sarah Griffin, a valuable player off the bench, also hurt her leg in the win over Banff.

The young Drillers didn’t give up against the bigger 3A Chestermere Lakers, they battled on like Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett at the Alamo, but everyone knows how that ended.

Drillers coach Paige Bowman wanted to make the injuries a non-factor as much as possible going into the final game.

“Before we went on the court we talked about our strengths are and what we have to do to stop them, but obviously the girls knew about the injuries,” Bowman said. “It is disappointing because when a 3A team drops down to play in a 2A tournament you want to show them you can play with them.”

The loss showed the future is bright for the Drillers.

For much of the final, the Drillers had three Grade 10 players on the floor.

“I think sometimes I keep forgetting that we are so young — I will look at the girls and say: ‘Wait a minute, these our Grade 10 girls playing at a Grade 12 level,’” Bowman said. “I have to give them more credit than I do at times.”

Grade 10 students Rachel Baker and Nevada Nelson picked up plenty of experience in the final.

Stepping up is all part of being a Driller according to Nelson.

“We just had to work hard as a team and pull through it,” Nelson said. “We had such a short bench after (the injuries).”

Baker said it was a valuable lesson playing against the tough Lakers.

“It was a good experience because they are such a good team,” Baker said. “It gives us something to aspire to.”

The Drillers were led by co-captains Kamala Knight and Kalene Lillico in their tournament opening 59-48 victory over Bearspaw. They both finished with 14 points. Thomson had 13 which included a trio three point shots.

Knight poured in 24 points in the win over Banff.

Now the Drillers have to get healthy.

Tucker may be able to play when the Drillers resume Foothills Athletic Council play tonight (Feb. 5) when they host the Strathmore Spartans at 5:30 p.m.

As for Thomson, coming from a family of bulldoggers and bullriders, a broken ankle is almost like a flesh wound. Jenna said she has her fingers crossed to be healthy for the 2A zones in March.

For more information about the Foothills Athletic Council go to www.foothillsathletics.ca


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