Ranked first in their division provincially, the Houston Christian School Wildcats are ready to take on zones this weekend.
They’ve been having a really good season, head coach Wendell Ewald said. Two weeks ago the girls came away the winners of a triple A tournament despite the fact that HCS is ranked as a single A school — much smaller than the team from D.P. Trojan, who they faced off against, both having won their round robin games 2 – 0.
“We’re pretty excited about that weekend, that was our preparation for zones and hopefully if we win zones than provincials,” Ewald said. “Playing against the big schools gives us the chance to play against high pressure, which is that provincial calibre type of playing. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Last year the senior girls finished third at provincials, Ewald said, proving to themselves that they could play well against those larger schools. Abbotsford Christian came in first and Kelowna Christian came in second that year, and Abbotsford is seeded second provincially, so if they make it to provincials, that’s the team they will be looking to beat.
With 19 students in grades 11 and 12, both male and female, to be able to pick athletes from that small of a pool and secure the top seed position going into zones is quite the accomplishment for HCS.
“It is quite something,” Ewald said, who noted that they’ll be bringing along some grade 9 and 10 girls who will be getting invaluable practice for future years.
It’s still premature, however, to say they’ll make it that far — they’ve got quite the battle ahead of them when it comes to zones, facing off against Houston Secondary School, Hazelton Secondary School and Bulkley Valley Christian School, all of whom are big names when it comes to basketball, Ewald said. Nisgaa and two schools from Haida Gwaii may also be contenders.
“We’re ready,” Ewald said.
The Wildcats have been practicing on strategies, focusing on specifics, especially on how to deal with stress and ways to get the ball to their strong post players on the inside.
“[The girls] are kind of recognizing that for our little school it’s quite an opportunity,” Ewald said. “They’re excited, but at the same time they’re going ‘oh man are we good enough to do this’? They’re working hard.”
Stacked up against the other teams, they do have one very visible advantage, Ewald said: Ruth Hamblin, who at 6’5″ stands well over the majority of the players.
“You set things up so that when you bring that ball in you can throw it up in the air over top of people and she will get it,” Ewald said. “So you can set up your offence so that if things don’t work well, you can pop that ball over the top and Ruth will get it. She can be a scoring machine.”
In grade 11, she’s already been garnering the interests from scouts and universities, Ewald said, she also played on the provincial team last year, traveling through the United States throughout the summer that’s really upped her game, Ewald said.
“It’s a nice weapon to have, for sure,” Ewald said.
There is the possibility of a second birth for zones, Ewald said, meaning there would be two teams represented at provincials from the northwest. Houston Secondary School is ranked second at the moment, so it should be interesting to see how things play out this weekend in Smithers.