By Karlene Skretting
Westwind Weekly News
Over the weekend, the Stirling Lakers became three-peat 1A girls provincial champions. The win was particularly special for senior Taylor Maynes, as she was part of the winning roster all three seasons, captaining this years squad to a 45-43 gold medal victory over Acme in Rosemary.
“Winning it again this year was really awesome, mostly because I really loved the girls I won it with this time. We all had a strong connection …,” said Maynes of her third consecutive provincial title.
Maynes credits the hard work of her coaches and teammates, saying their whole lives encompassed around basketball for most of the season. They ate, slept and dreamed all things basketball, but Maynes wouldn’t have it any other way.
Growing up in Stirling, Maynes remembers watching the Lakers and looking up to aunts and other family members, idolizing them at games and wanting to wear a Lakers jersey and play on the senior team one day.
To Maynes “being a Laker means putting your team first … I am super proud of how we came together as a team this season and put the success of the team before the success of any one individual.” Everyone on the 10-member roster had a role and contributed to the victory.
“Our first game we won by four, our second game we won by one and the final, we won by two,” said Donna Branch, Lakers head coach. “You can’t win three close games like that without playing like a team.”
During the final game, the Lakers started off the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead, but Acme outplayed them during the last 20 minutes of the game. The defence was so strong, it took the Lakers close to five minutes to get on the scoreboard.
And a pair of Acme seniors racked up eight points alone on simple give-and-go’s, but in the end the Lakers came together like they did all season, playing a tough man-to-man defence to hold their lead and take home the provincial title.
Branch said that for much of provincials she trusted the girls to make game decisions at time outs, and that trust went a long way.
To get to the finals Stirling had a pair of close games, defeating Olds 48 -44 and Bawlf School 60- 56.
Grade 10 Amy Mazutinec led the Lakers scoring effort over the course of the tournament.
Graduating from the Lakers squad will be co-captains Taylor Maynes and Brianna Hyggen. Branch is excited about next year, with four returning starters and a strong group of grade nines coming up.