The Virden Golden Bears went undefeated at the Forbidden Flavours Java Jam high school basketball tournament on the weekend.
Virden is the second-ranked AAA varsity girls team in the province and will face the top-ranked team in the province at a tournament next weekend. They geared up for it by capturing the Java Jam title with an 82-61 win over the John Taylor Pipers, who couldn’t contain the Golden Bears’ run-and-gun game.
“In practice we run and we run every day,” said Steve Densmore, Virden’s head coach. “We want other teams to run with us. John Taylor could run with us for about a quarter and a half and after that they started dying. … That’s what we’re counting on, being better conditioned than other teams and it’s paid off all year.”
It also helps that Virden has a deep bench and five players who can shoot the three-ball, which makes the Golden Bears even tougher to defend. The early-season success has them thinking about winning the provincial AAA championship, which will be held in Winnipeg from March 14-16.
“We’re feeling pretty confident,” said Virden’s Jade Smith, who scored 20 points in the final. “We hope to get all the way up to provincial finals. Then just work hard in that game and hopefully get up there to first.”
Smith was named to the tournament’s all-star team along with John Taylor’s Mackenzie Klump and Shelby Cook as well as Neelin’s Paige Thomson and Garden City’s Alicia Phillips. Heidi Smith was named the tournament’s MVP and led Virden with 27 points in the final. Logan Billum of the Golden Bears won the Specialty Award for all-around play, while Crocus Plains’ Stacey Shearer was named best defensive player.
Thomson scored 15 points as Neelin fell 47-43 to Garden City in the third-place game. Crocus finished seventh with a 52-34 win over the Vincent Massey Vikings. Desirae Peiffer had 12 points for Crocus, while Tara Vancauwenberghe scored nine for Massey.
The Neepawa Tigers won the JV girls division with a 44-41 overtime win over Kildonan East. Shelby Gillies led Neepawa with 11 points. Virden finished third with a 62-44 win over Crocus, Massey beat Swan Valley 49-14 for fifth place and Neelin lost 64-8 to Grandview in the seventh place game.