Lewis, Luckins eager for Early Bird tourney


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The Crocus Plains Early Bird varsity girls’ basketball tournament means a little extra to Colsie Lewis and Jorja Luckins.

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The Crocus Plains Early Bird varsity girls’ basketball tournament means a little extra to Colsie Lewis and Jorja Luckins.

The duo from Alexander were supposed to play in it for the first time last year but were involved in a rollover on their way to a morning open gym session in October 2021. They suffered a variety of injuries to their backs and necks and couldn’t play until halfway through the season.

“It just happened so quick. Four weeks later it was basketball tryouts and we were still out. It sucked,” Luckins said.

“It makes me want to come to practice and give it my all because you might not be here tomorrow. Today could be your last day. I know this is bad to say but I’m glad Cols was in the car with me because we’ve been best friends for years. Having her by my side made me stay calm. We were in it together.

“She was with me through it all. We were at the same pace, got back in it together, now we’re playing our senior year together.”

The Plainsmen kick off their home tournament today against Neepawa at 9 a.m.

Luckins and Lewis, who have been best friends since elementary school, are two of five Grade 12s on coach Adam Hartman’s roster. They lost 10 seniors to graduation after reclaiming the city crown from Vincent Massey, and Hartman’s looking to the pair for leadership.

He said they learned a lot about the varsity game as they worked their way back from their injuries and have developed into terrific leaders.

“They’re pretty selfless kids. They’re always worrying about the team and putting the team before themselves,” Hartman said. “… They won’t be relied upon to shoulder a huge load of the scoring but they’re doing all the intangible things. They’re making the offence continue to run. They’re playing good defence, they’re communicating, making sure everyone’s on the same page. I can’t say enough good things about who they are as teammates and who they are as people.”

It was clear the team thought highly of Lewis and Luckins when they finally entered a regular-season game against Neelin last year. They felt their teammates’ excitement and knew the work to get back on the court was worth it.

While it was a bit of a shock checking into a varsity game after their last action was with the freshmen team in 2020 and COVID-19 kiboshed their junior varsity campaign, Lewis said the seniors made it easier to transition.

“I’m really good friends with Xuan (Can), Liz Ball, Randi (Burnett), Jasmine (Horwood) … they’re all people that have impacted me greatly and who I look up to,” Lewis said.

“We have five girls moving up to Grade 12, we were all just the quiet rookies last year so it’s a big change for all of us to have a bigger role on the team, be the person everybody else looks up to.”

Hartman expects the rest of the seniors to fill roles nicely. Rylee Wiebe, who got to play with her sister and 2022 graduating all-star, Emma, last season, is a matchup problem for opponents with her versatility. She can hold her own in the paint and handle the ball.

Five-foot-two point guard Aly Gungon plays much bigger and finds ways to score against taller opponents, while six-foot-one forward Alanah Gushulak will be a presence in the paint, rebounding and protecting the Plainsmen rim.

Virden and Dauphin meet in the second quarterfinal, with the winner playing Crocus or Neepawa at 5:45 p.m.

On the bottom half of the bracket, Vincent Massey plays Warren at 12:30 p.m., and then Neelin meets Swan Valley at 2:15 p.m. Their semifinal is Saturday at 9 a.m.

The final is Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

» tfriesen@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @thomasmfriesen

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