Several opponents came to conquer, but nobody was able to penetrate the armour of the Norberry-Glenlee Knights last season.
The St. Vital-based team recently capped an undefeated season in the Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association’s 13-14 girls south division with a victory over Southdale in the championship game.
Officials say the team, coached by south St. Vital resident Kayla Nimchuk and Josée Gilbert, who lives in the RM of St. Clements, had a season record of 15 wins, one tie and no losses.
Nimchuk, 19, said the team’s success this season reflected the collective effort of the players and coaches.
"It feels amazing to have had such a successful season," said Nimchuk, who works as a supervisor at Bulk Barn, noting the players have made her "learn to love to coach and want to continue it further."
"We worked so hard for it, especially the girls. They were such an easy team to coach and I enjoyed every second of it."
She said the Knights knew Southdale would be a tough competitor in the championship game, as it had been a "great team" all season, so Norberry-Glenlee played to its strengths to secure the edge.
"This was the fourth time we played them, so we knew had to up our game and bring in some new plays because they knew us as much as we knew them. They are a taller team than us, so we made sure to use our speed to our advantage. Overall, we played one of our best games against them and the girls deserved this championship game," Nimchuk said.
Among the players is 15-year-old point guard and sometime-forward Olivia Lunny. Revealing one of the secrets of the team’s success, the Westgate Mennonite Collegiate student said winning the championship was one of the highlights of her basketball career to date.
"After coming in second last year to our rivals Dakota, my team was eager to enter this season with our eyes on the championship," Lunny said, noting she enjoys the "team aspect, fast pace, strategy, endurance and competitive nature" of basketball.
"Our players and coaches share the ability to always stay positive. In some situations, this turns into determination and we can always look to each other for encouragement. Overall, this season was one to remember and I hope to someday play with these girls again," added the Sage Creek resident.
Teammate and guard Grace Hillick said the team’s coaches pushed the players to do their best — and the team spirit and work ethic fostered within the camp helped the Knights rise to the top.
"Winning the championship felt great because we worked for it," said Hillick, 14, who lives in St. Vital and attends Victor Mager School.
"Our coaches on the side and during practice pushed us to be the best we can. I enjoyed playing more because of them."
To learn more about the centre, visit www.norberry-glenlee.ca