Tenacious D gets Falcons league title
Basketball: Foothills claim second FAC girls hoops banner in three years
Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 10:58 am
Two out of three ain’t bad.
The Foothills Falcons’ rise to prominence in the Foothills Athletic Council continued as they won their second championship in three years by downing the Strathmore Spartans 61-45, March 8 at Holy Trinity Academy.
They did it with a stifling defence which held the Spartans without a field goal in the second quarter until there was only 20 seconds left in the first half. The Falcons, after trailing 7-1 early in the game, took a 31-21 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We kept our feet moving, we kept our hands out and there was a lot of communication,” said Falcon Jessica Lynes about her team’s defence. “We also got a lot of energy from our bench.”
There was nothing fancy about their defence — it was just hard work and some Canadian hustle.
Falcon rookie Jocelyn Skrilec exemplified that hustle when she came charging back to block a certain lay-up by Strathmore’s Erin Warack after a Spartan steal midway through the second quarter.
“She beat one of our girls and I just stepped in for help-side and I got a stop on it and we got a rebound,” Skrilec said. “It was just all of us working together... it’s all about defence.”
The Falcons proved they could not only play defence, they could handle some pressure. The Spartans battled back early in the third quarter when Strathmore’s Karly Larson hit a three-point shot to trim the lead to 32-31 with 3:52 left in the third quarter. The Falcons would fly back and when captain Kennedy Burgess nailed a jumpshot Foothills had a 43-32 lead late in the third quarter.
Burgess said the Falcons were able to keep their cool after the Spartans’ rally.
“We have panicked before but this time we relaxed and had the mental stability to push up that lead again,” she said. “We had to keep our cool.”
Falcons coach Lana Gwilliam showed the ultimate confidence in her team by not calling a timeout after the Spartans’ run.
“I have been preaching all season it starts on defence,” Gwilliam said. “You get the stop, you outlet and you run. We came out complacent in the third quarter and they cut it to one, but we handled it.”
Spartans coach Dion Gillandy said the second-quarter drought did his team in.
“That was really tough,” Gillandy said. “I just told the girls at halftime, let’s just focus and be prepared for the third quarter... we came back and held them scoreless for 6 minutes in the third quarter.”
He said his team ran out of gas as it had a short bench due to injuries. Any comeback attempt was severely hampered when Larson went out with a leg injury late in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons were led by captain Burgess, with 19 points. The points were evenly distributed as Grade 11 students Lauren Bailey finished with 13 points and Skrilec had 10.
The inspirational leaders were forwards Bailie McCarthy and Kalli Turbach. McCarthy was in crutches the night before while Turbach had a solid game despite not being able to eat solid food due to stomach flu.
“Those are our two tallest players on our team and I was kind of scared they couldn’t play,” Burgess said. “But they toughed it out, came prepared and they had phenomenal games.
“It sparked my energy and it sparked the girls’ energy.”
McCarthy was a dominant force in the middle and contributed seven points to the victory. Turbach controlled the boards and contributed six points.
The Falcons will now set their sights at the 4A provincials in Lethbridge March 20-22. They are going into the tourney playing their best ball of the season. The Falcons have won eight of their last nine games since the exam break.
They have also checked off one of their goals for the year.
“Winning the league banner is something the girls lost in the final last year and to win the league banner again was one of our first goals,” Gwilliam said. “Now we want to get to provincials and compete with the 4A teams.”
Prior to the Falcons winning the title two years ago, Foothills hadn’t won an FAC championship since 2005.
The JV Falcons also did Foothills proud by beating Holy Trinity Academy 45-28 in the FAC final.
For more information on the Foothills Athletic Council go to foothillsathletics.ca