A season of growth finished with a provincial championship for the Briercrest Christian Academy (BCA) Cougars at Hoopla.
The Cougars beat the Lumsden Angels, 77-62, on Saturday to win the 3A girls basketball provincial championship in Saskatoon.
"It feels really good," said Cougars senior Melissa Ellis. "I was excited last year getting silver but I guess you can't really ask for a better way to finish off the season and your high school basketball career than with a gold medal at Hoopla."
BCA entered Hoopla as the top-ranked team in the 3A girls division and they proved it, winning 79-38 over Melville in the semi-final on Friday and then continuing to roll into the championship game on Saturday.
Head Coach Leigh Wolverton said the Cougars improved a lot over the course of the season, "The girls worked really hard. They had a great season working together, learning how to play and being able to put it all together in the conference, regionals and finally, Hoopla, it's been really satisfying," he said.
"We improved a huge amount. We had injuries and were just really learning how to play as a team throughout [the season]."
The Cougars went 4-4 during league play in the Moose Jaw High School Senior Basketball League, but in a sign of their progress, they made it into the league final before falling to Peacock.
"The city league definitely prepared us for provincials and regionals because playing those higher level teams is so much fun and shows us the different competition that we can face and how to work together through these harder games," said Ellis.
It didn't come easy for the Cougars in the provincial championship game against Lumsden as the Angels gave them everything that they could handle. The game was tied 37-37 at halftime, but BCA found its stride in the second half.
"Our defence, coming together as a team, working through things and just staying calm, cool and collected, so just remembering the key concepts of our game helped us pull through," said Ellis, who finished with 20 points in the win.
Fellow senior Brooklyn Martens added a game-high 24 points for the Cougars, who will also graduate Aili Burlando from this year's team.
"We had so much fun, I love my team, it was so good just getting to play with them, practice with them, laugh together, cry together and go through the ups and downs, and I'm really glad that we got to come together through this sport and become a family," said Ellis.
Written by Marc Smith for www.discovermoosejaw.com