By Garrett Simmons
Westwind Weekly News
It’s tough to repeat.
That’s a lesson many teams have learned over the years, and one the Magrath Zeniths learned on the opening night of action in the Southern Alberta High School Basketball League.
Magrath, the defending 4A southern Alberta zone champions, fell 101-47 on Tuesday night to the Cardston Cougars, despite a 17-point effort from Cody Tollestrup. Levi Gruninger added eight points.
Magrath also dropped the junior varsity game, by a score of 105-46, as Kobe Thomson led Magrath with 16 points. Mac Strong had nine points in the loss.
Zeniths head coach Ryan Blackmore’s team graduated a number of key seniors last year, from a team that won its zone and earned the No. 3 seed at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association provincial tournament.
“This year the Zeniths will be a well-rounded group with five Grade 12s, three Grade 11s and four Grade 10s,” said Blackmore.
The coach added the leadership core of this year’s team will relying heavily on a couple of key players.
“With only two returning players this year, Mason Stock and Colton Finck will have to be providing the experience,” said Blackmore. “However, we expect that everyone will be stepping up as leaders. As a team this year, we have a strong focus on team defense.”
Following up on a championship season last year, Blackmore added the team has set a couple of simple goals for the new season.
“Our team expectations are to compete each and every night, and to show daily improvement. Our major strengths include hard working, coachable and athletic. Areas of improvement would be inexperience.”
The Zeniths not only have a tough league schedule, but also have entered in a number of high-profile tournaments this year, including Edmonton’s Ross Sheppard on Dec. 6-8, Cardston on Dec. 14-15, the team’s home tournament from Dec. 21-22 and Raymond’s annual Sugar Bowl Dec. 26-27. The RIT Western Canada tournament in Calgary on Feb. 7-9 will be Magrath’s final tournament.
The Zeniths are back in action on Dec. 11, as Magrath travels to Lethbridge to face Winston Churchill.
And while Magrath may be in a bit of a rebuilding year, 2018/2019 could be a big season for the Raymond Comets. Raymond got off to a fast start Tuesday night with a 122-91 win over the Chinook Coyotes.
Jeter Heggie poured in a game high 38 points, while Shae Gibb added 30. Brady Baines chipped in with 10, while three other players collected nine points each.
The Comets won the JV game 85-62, thanks to 28 points from West James and 12 from Izaak Long.
Raymond will head to Medicine Hat on Dec. 11 to battle the Mohawks.