It’s a basketball dynasty in the making.
The Sisler Spartans junior varsity girls captured the provincial championship on Saturday with a 55-50 win over the Lord Selkirk Royals in Sanford, Man. For the majority of the Spartans, it was a second straight championship to go along with their Grade 9 title from a year earlier.
The Grade 9 team went undefeated, while this year’s squad lost only once — in the final of a tournament in Regina.
"There was some pressure on me to get the girls ready to play because of how good they were last year," said head coach Leo Sadiua, who tallied up the team’s final record at 26-1.
The provincial final didn’t play out like a typical game for Sisler. Instead of having their usual comfortable lead at halftime, the Spartans found themselves trailing the Royals by 11.
"The girls weren’t used to playing from behind," Sadiua said. "We were usually up 20 at the half. But you have to give credit to the Selkirk girls. They played an awesome game."
The Spartans’ shots finally started falling in the second half, and they cut the lead to three points after the third quarter. From there, the Spartans asserted themselves as the best team in the province.
"It was overwhelming," said point guard Geselle Dela Merced, a Garden Grove resident. "Everybody was so happy because it was our second time winning it. I think it was a bigger deal this year because there were so many more people at the games."
Sisler was well represented when the individual awards were handed out after the tournament. Sentilla Bubb was named a tournament all-star along with Dela Merced, while Jollyann Hueratas was named the tournament MVP.
The Spartans certainly weren’t the biggest team in the province, but they might have been the fastest and most athletic.
"A lot of the girls are also involved in track and field, and that helps us," Sadiua said. "Running up and down the court is our game."
Dela Merced said the players’ commitment to each other also had a lot to do with the end result.
"We all give 110% at every practice, every day," she said. "Our bond is also very strong. We’re always together at school all the time. We’re a very close-knit team."
The JV Spartans are already looking ahead to challenging for a third championship next year, when they’ll join a strong core of Grade 11 players who have helped the varsity team reach this week’s provincial semifinals.