It was the legendary sports scribe Heywood Broun who said that sports doesn’t build character, but reveals it. It’s somewhat fitting then that that a thrown-together team of untested and inexperienced players from Coronation would end up proving to their coach and school that character sometimes makes a bigger difference on the court than experience.
It was exams that kept many of the grade 12 players home from a Sr. High basketball tournament held on Thursday, January 17 in Eckville. Rather than bow out, coach Dan Jones filled the holes with younger and less experienced players, bringing a total of eight boys with him on the long drive west.
What happened next, according to Jones, was nothing short of breathtaking.
Facing tough teams from across central Alberta, the boys from Coronation finished third overall in the tournament, blowing everybody’s expectations out of the water.
It was a tough team from Bentley that the boys faced in the battle for third place. With many of the Bentley players fouling out, the Saints were able to concentrate on building a sound offense to counter the Panthers’ rough defense. Braving against the fouls and elbows thrown their way, Coronation rallied in the second half to win 74 to 54.
Jones was hard pressed to hide his admiration of his team.
“They played their hearts out,” Jones said. “They played above and beyond what I expected.”
“I was just so proud of them,” he added.
Jones’ players were equally proud of their win, crediting their coach’s sometimes relentless drills with helping them gel as a team.
“Our coaches pushed us forward,” said Tanner Black, the team’s centre. “They helped us keep focused on what our goals were.”
Indeed, the players credited hard work on building a sound offensive strategy with increasing their calibre of play. Grade 11 student and point guard Eric Rodvang credits strong teamwork on their offensive game as a key to their victory in Eckville.
“We had great team chemistry this weekend,” Rodvang said. “The younger guys had to step it up, and they did so.”
Any coach will agree that a win can do wonders for a team’s performance on the court. Jones feels that this win will rally the team to work harder in future games.
“In the past we’ve gone to tournaments and gotten our butts spanked,” Jones said. “I think this will be really good for them. They definitely had big smiles on their faces.”
Both the coaching staff and players agree that this win will prove that Coronation is a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood, both by other teams and by themselves.
“This win proves how good we’ll do next year,” Rodvang said. “It proves to the grade 12s that we are a strong team all around.”