Virden Golden Bears Natalie Vachon drives past Neelin Spartans Kristine Ward and Jordan Hardy during game action Saturday at the Neelin gym. (JAMES O’CONNOR/BRANDON SUN)
A preview of this week’s AAA varsity girls high school basketball interzone playoffs wrapped up the Triple Crown Zone Challenge Saturday, and left both the Neelin Spartans and Virden Golden Bears feeling good about their chances.
The Golden Bears — ranked second in the province — got off to a rough start Saturday at the Neelin gymnasium, but battled back from a 23-18 first-quarter deficit to win 80-63.
Jade Smith led Virden with 21 points and she believes Saturday’s game showed how much her team is improving.
"Our communication has gotten so much better than it was at the beginning of the year," she said.
"We’ve improved so much. We’re working really hard to getting where we want to be and that’s what we’re working on right now, to get (to provincials)."
Logan Biccum added 17 points for Virden while Heidi Smith chipped in with 16. Kristine Ward led Neelin with 19 points, while Paige Thomson and Jordan Hardy both had 10.
Despite the loss, a quiet confidence is brewing in the Spartans’ dressing room. The Spartans felt they were right with the Golden Bears for three quarters before Virden pulled away in the final quarter.
However, the ninth-ranked Spartans now believe they can compete with the Golden Bears in the interzone game that will be held in Virden on either Thursday or Friday.
"There’s a little bit of hidden confidence," Spartans head coach Don Thomson said. "They know we have a lot of work to do, but we’re going to keep closing the gap."
In other tournament action:
Vincent Massey 48 Portage 20
Allison Cruse led a balanced Vikings attack with eight points. Shae Miller had four for Portage.
Neelin 48 Kildonan East 44
Paige Thomson scored 23 points for Neelin. Christina Posthamus had 19 for Kildonan East.
Crocus Plains 37 Portage 26
Stacey Shearer had nine points for the Plainsmen. Miller replied with seven for Portage.
Kildonan East 67 Massey 47
Megan Asham’s nine points weren’t enough for the Vikings. Daliny Yang had 19 for Kildonan East.
(at Vincent Massey)
Massey 65 Moosomin 45
Jeremy Lucio led the Vikings with 25 points. Austin Jones had 18 for Moosomin.
Neelin 88 Portage 44
Theo Farough netted 30 points for the Spartans. Chaz Brown led Portage with 12.
Weyburn 57 Massey 54
Lucio drained 26 points for the Vikes. Jack Carhelton led Weyburn with 19.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 25, 2013