Courchene finding her stride on hard court


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Alex Courchene hung up her skates in favour of the hard court, and hasn’t looked back.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/12/2018 (1645 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Alex Courchene hung up her skates in favour of the hard court, and hasn’t looked back.

Instead of firing slap shots for the female Wheat Kings, she’s knocking down three-pointers for the Crocus Plainsmen varsity girls’ basketball team. The Grade 12 guard dropped nine points as the Plainsmen beat the Neelin Spartans 52-37 in the semifinals of the Early Bird basketball tournament on Friday.

She only started playing basketball two years ago, and is starting on the varsity squad.

Crocus Plainsmen guard Alex Courchene drives for a layup against the Neelin Spartans during the Early Bird varsity girls
Crocus Plainsmen guard Alex Courchene drives for a layup against the Neelin Spartans during the Early Bird varsity girls' basketball tournament at Crocus on Friday.

It took little convincing for her to make the switch.

“I was kind of bored of hockey to be honest, and (basketball) tryouts were coming up,” Courchene said. “I’d been shooting around in the gym and some of the girls asked me to come.”

She made the junior varsity roster that year and quickly got up to speed.

Last season, it clicked that she made the right decision. Down six points late in a Brandon High School Basketball League game against the Spartans, Courchene drilled a pair of triples to force overtime, and the Plainsmen came out with the win.

“That was really exciting,” she said. “That score, they stayed at that and we just kept going up.

“I think we need that close game to get our energy up and go hard.”

Courchene has been a shooter right from the start, but took a while to figure out how to play defence in a new sport. In her second year — first in varsity — head coach Adam Hartman weighed the pros and cons of having her on the floor.

“She’s always had those instincts to be able to steal it, but there were also opportunities for the other team to beat her back door,” he said. “I had to gamble on whether the three was worth the lack of defence or the turnover.

“She’s really improved in those areas.”

The five-foot-six guard agreed that her defence was weak, but feels it’s improving and will continue to develop this season.

Her offensive skills are expanding as well, and she put them on display in the team’s first game day of the year Friday. In the opening quarter against Neelin, she hit a catch-and-shoot three one possession, then slashed to the hoop and made a tough layup while being fouled the next trip down the floor.

“Last year she was more of just a shooter, and now she’s expanded to have a great role for this team where she’s handling the ball, she can bring it up as the point and make great passes, but still drive and shoot the ball,” Hartman said.

After dropping 12 points in Crocus’s quarter-final — a 57-40 win over the Virden Golden Bears — and another solid performance in the semifinals, Courchene credited her teammates for more than just getting to the tournament final.

“My teammates are amazing. They just make me want to play, and I love coming to practice,” she said. “Our energy on the bench is good, and that gave us an extra kick to just go.”

Courchene’s final high school season is underway, and she’s already trying to make sure it’s not her last year on the court. She is hoping to play basketball at the post-secondary level, but knows that will take a lot more work this season.

“I need to get in the gym and get to lifting weights because some of those girls are pretty big,” she said. “But just keep working.”

With the curve she’s on after just two seasons, Hartman doesn’t doubt her ability to accomplish that.

“She started off as a quiet kid and maybe felt a little bit uncomfortable at the start of the year,” Hartman said. “But there was a moment where you could really tell she started to love the game and love playing for this program.

“She has always been able to shoot the ball incredibly well. She’s works hard on her ball handling as well. … Now that she’s comfortable, nothing can stop her.”


» Twitter: @thomasmfriesen

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