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Pandas narrowly miss out

Posted on March 20, 2014 by Westwind Weekly

The Magrath Pandas basketball team made a bold choice earlier this season to compete at the 4A level, knowing several teams would have a chance to make the South Zone-hosted provincials.

A tall task for sure, the Pandas proved they belonged even though a sixth-place finish means they won’t be one of the five south teams to play this weekend.

“We wanted to see if we could get there,” head coach Kristyn Barfuss said. “We thought it would have been a great experience for the girls.”

The girls came oh so close too.

After losing to eventual champion Chinook in round one, Magrath (No. 7) knocked off the No. 6 seeded LCI Clippers 63-56 to keep hopes alive. No. 5 Medicine Hat beat them to go onto the third-place game but with five teams set to qualify, the final game against Catholic Central was for a whole bag full of marbles.

“We really felt we had a chance to do it and we came so close,” said Barfuss. “We played well and had a lead, but we just lost in the end.”

In overtime no less.

CCH pulled away in the extra frame, winning 76-66 to clinch the final provincial berth. In hindsight, Magrath, which plays nearly every season as a 3A school (it’s small enough to play 2A), probably could have made a solid run at playing in the 3A provincials this weekend in Lloydminster. But Barfuss isn’t looking at it that way.

“Obviously we’d still like to be playing,” she said. “But I’m glad we took a shot at (4A’s) because if we didn’t we would have never known how far we could go.”

The decision on where the Pandas will play next year won’t be made for a while but regardless, the team returns a lot of players from this young group and ought to be quite competitive no matter what tier it plays in.

“They’re an awesome bunch,” Barfuss said. “We showed a lot of improvement this year; we had our ups and downs but we’re a young team and we won’t be losing many girls.”

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