By Karlene Skretting
Westwind Weekly News
Over the weekend the Magrath Pandas took the Panda Classic tournament title and went undefeated in their home tournament. The draw featured five of the top 15 3A girls basketball teams in the province, with Magrath (ranked fourth) being the top squad in attendance.
“The girls wanted to win it, they were excited and having fun in front of the home crowd all weekend,” said Pandas head coach Kristyn Barfuss.
The tournament unfolded with a big win for the Pandas when they defeated the Holy Trinity Academy Knights 82-40 on Friday night in the Tom Karren Gym. That momentum set the pace for the rest of the tournament.
“The girls played well together and had really good defensive play all weekend.”
In the semifinal game the Pandas defeated the Chestermere Lady Lakers 55-45. It was the home squads closest contest.
Despite a strong defence, Barfuss noted that the Pandas offense was lacking.
“… [W]e didn’t score much in the second half at all. But we were playing such great defense that the other team didn’t score much at all either. So our defense really held us in that game and won it for us…”
A taller post on the Lady Lakers proved to be a challenge for the Pandas girls because they are a short team, with five of the 11-member squad coming in under 5’7”.
As a result, the Pandas tried to use their speed to their advantage and focused on fast breaks ruining the ball to score layups. “We like to be a running team if we can.”
In the finals the Pandas brought there ‘A’ game and played as a team defeating the McCoy Colts 85-43.
“There were a lot of players contributing double digits. It was very team focused win. I love to see that because it tells me that they are working as a team and that everyone can contribute …”
Cassidy Cook led the team with 19 points in the final game, Megan Anderson added 17, Teesha Olson put up 11 of her own and Tana Stewart contributed 10 points to the winning effort.
The fan support in the gym was evident all weekend, but the final game was particularly loud with the senior boys basketball team cheering loud and proud for the Pandas.
The tournament win did not come without adversity, senior Alyssa Doig injuring her knee during the final game and had to be taken to the hospital. She is currently on crutches awaiting test results.
Olson and Anderson were also suffering knee pain as the game went on.
“I was a little bit worried because everyone was hurting that last game, but they still fought and worked hard.”
Both Megan and Teesha had a good weekend, stepping up and working hard.
Anderson was named the Defensive MVP and Olson was named the Offensive MVP.
Anderson had a lot of steals in the championship game. She is a quick player and can read and anticipate plays. “She puts pressure on the other teams guards and if they aren’t strong dribbling the ball then she is all over them.”
As the shortest senior, Anderson played well beyond her 5’4” frame and rebounded the ball quite well. She is smart and knows where to be and how to get the rebounds, pointed out her coach.
Olson led the Pandas over the weekend with 48 points; she was the top scorer in the Chestermere and Holy Trinity Academy game with 19 points and 18 points respectively.
Teesha is a well-rounded player, whether she is shooting 3s or passing the ball to an open player, she knows where her teammates and opposition are on the court.
Barfuss knows Olson’s selfless ball play helps contribute to team wins.
“The tournament was great. So many people helped out so much to make it a success … We have awesome community members that make it possible.”