Both of Vincent Massey’s varsity basketball teams will have their hands full today.
The squads head into their 12-team provincial AAAA high school championships in Winnipeg as the 12th seeds and know they have an uphill climb to keep their seasons alive.
The Viking girls, however, are a confident group. They jumped in and out of the provincial rankings during the season, reaching as high as ninth, and feel a bit of momentum is on their side as they prepare to take on the fifth-seeded Linden Christian Wings at 6 p.m.
"We’re coming in on a win," said head coach Brett Nohr. "We played Garden Valley tough … and our last game was a win, and that’s how everyone is thinking now. It’s not ‘Our last game was a loss in the city final,’ it’s ‘Our last game was a win.’
"We know what to expect as a team from Linden Christian and we’ll go in and compete with them and see what happens."
All season long the Vikings have been scoring and defending by committee, and they’ll need that to continue today, especially with Tara VanCauwenberghe, the team’s second-leading scorer, away on a family trip.
Brittany Boschman, who leads Massey with 15 points and eight rebounds per game, thinks her teammates are up for the challenge.
"It’s going to be pretty difficult, but I think we can do it," the 5-foot-11 post said. "I think we’ll be good. Our whole team is going to step up. It’s going to be a good game."
Win or lose, Nohr won’t have long to give a post-game speech to his girls’ team as he has to jump in a vehicle to drive from West Kildonan Collegiate to Garden City to coach Massey’s boys against the Kelvin Clippers at 8 p.m. It’s something he’s done throughout the year and he’s grateful for his assistant coaches helping make it possible.
Whether or not Nohr makes it for the tip-off for the boys’ game, the Vikings will be in tough. They haven’t faced the Clippers this season, but know they are well-deserving of their No.5 ranking. For 6-foot-4 Massey post James Klassen, it may be his last game before he graduates, which has him motivated.
"It’s a weird feeling, but I’m looking forward to it a lot. It will be fun," he said.
Klassen feels he has to step up under the basket and to help shut down Kelvin inside, while Nohr hopes that his team doesn’t let up during the game.
"We have to play at a high level of intensity for 40 minutes," Nohr said. "We tend to take five to 10 minutes off and then we try to pick it back up again. Against the good teams in the city, we can’t do that.
"Our identity is we turn into a 3-2 zone team with our length and our size. Now we have to be able to make sure we play at a high intensity so the other team doesn’t know what’s going on."
Meanwhile, the provincial AAA/AAAA junior varsity basketball provincials got underway in Winnipeg yesterday with both Viking teams dropping to the consolation side of the draw. Massey’s boys lost 66-43 to the Lorette Scorpions and will play in a consolation quarter-final against the Dakota Lancers today.
In the girls’ event, Massey fell 63-48 to the St. Mary’s Flames and will take on the Virden Golden Bears in their consolation quarter-final today.
The A/AA junior varsity basketball provincials start today, with the boys’ event in Dominion City and the girls in Morris.