The Sisler Spartans junior varsity girls are giving their namesake a run for their money when it comes to being formidable.
The basketball squad is currently ranked first both in the Winnipeg School Division league and in the provincial Manitoba Highs School Athletic Association standings overall.
Continuing a winning streak from the previous year, the team is 11-0 so far this season, a result team manager Bernard Alibudbud is perfectly pleased with.
"Overall it’s just a great group of girls. They cheer, they support on and off the court," Alibudbud said.
"They get along off the court... They haven’t lost since Grade 9. Last year they were undefeated when they won city and provincials as well."
Setting this squad apart from others, he said, is a rock-solid on-court intuition.
"They’ve got really good instincts," Alibudbud said.
When Alibudbud spoke with The Times Jan. 24, the team had most recently scored a decisive victory over Daniel McIntyre on Jan. 22.
But even with an undefeated team, there’s always something to fine-tune. Alibudbud said areas of focus right now are training to make up for a lack of height in the team, and maintaining intensity on the court.
"We have to try to outsmart teams, use our athleticism. What we lack in height we have to make up for in game plan and strategy," he said.
The Spartans athletic program has, in general, established a track record of producing top-level athletes, with many recent grads going on to fruitful college careers.
Alibudbud said the key to such results lies in continuity among the coaching staff.
"There’s a good group of coaches. Michael Tan, the varsity coach, has been here for a long time," Alibudbud said.
"Our junior varsity coach Leo (Sadieua) has been here five, six years... The coaches know what they’re going to get from last year’s coach, and they know what they need to work on for next year’s coach."
For example, Alibudbud said JV coaching staff will be working on making sure their players are prepared for the uptick in speed they can expect at the varsity level, and working on their creativity.
"They might be only doing one move, and now they have to really think, really outwit, because that varsity level is that extra level of maturity. Getting their minds ready for the extra maturity in gameplay," Alibudbud explained.
The JV squad headed to tournament play in Regina over the weekend along with its fellow Spartans teams, but results were not available at press time. They had a break in league play before the tourney, time which Alibudbud said would be spent practising.