Head coach Sandra Ducharme makes sure of that, and the smallest player in the division, 4-foot-6 Jumel Bernardo, who says he has been playing the game since he could bounce a ball, will vouch for her.
Monday, the Thunder defeated the Dakota Lazers No. 1 55-32 in the opening round of the Free Press Community Classic Tournament at the University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre.
"Jumel thinks he can play post, and he's 4-foot-6," said Ducharme.
"For me, size doesn't matter," said Bernardo, who isn't afraid to mix it up under the boards or set a pick in front of the bigger players. "Just be aggressive, that's my motto. Sometimes I get a shot at the net. Most go in."
Bernardo didn't figure in the scoring last night, but the Thunder did get 16 points from Daniel Tuazon, 13 from Ketan Bansal and 11 from Jordan Murdock. Dakota's leading scorers were Thor Sigmar with 13, and Zenon Happychuk with six.
Ducharme believes Bernardo is the heart of the team. "Jumel has learned a lot in the last little while. He doesn't play like a little guy, he plays like a big guy. I have to remind him all the time, that he is not a post. He is a fantastic player and gives us 110 per cent."
Opening the tournament on the girls' side with a win were the Roblin Park Raiders, who beat the Selkirk Sonics 36-16.
Roblin Park was led by Lexis Tohannason with 14, Courtney Bosclair with eight and Megan Riediger with six. Selkirk got five from Selina Hays and four from Taylor Goodbrandson.
Ducharme's philosophy toward coaching is to make everyone feel equal and important.
"Basketball is not a one-person sport," she said. "It's everyone's job to run hard, play hard, and try their best."
To accomplish those goals, she is a firm believer that the team that shares together, has fun together and wins together. One example is field trips to things such as Boo at the Zoo.
"That was a bonus to the program," she said, "but actually for the kids to play well together they need to know each other and have confidence in each other. It is a lot easier to be friendly with someone you have had a laugh with and a good time with."
Ducharme has also been responsible for bringing more women into the grassroots coaching realm. "My husband and I co-ordinated the Aboriginal Winter Indigenous Games organizing the six teams, and we needed help.
"We told one of the ladies who was bringing her brother out, that we were willing to work with her and show her the drills and how to run a practice," she explained. "It is easy enough to learn this game."
Other results are as follows:
12 BOYS DIVISION
Greendell Falcons 49, Garden City 32
Greendell scoring: Khalid Ali, 23; Jesse Davidson, 9; Jeremy Baker, 6; Kevin Baillie, 3; Brody Jones, Matthew Kobewka, Ian Schaefer and Zach Antonio, 2. Garden City scoring: Dylan Lemay, 11; Justin Kasper, 7; Jerrod Alcantara, Drew Dobinsky and Justin Guillas, 4; Reece MacCallum 2.
11-12 GIRLS DIVISION
East St. Paul 18, Whyte Ridge No. 1, 17
East St. Paul scoring: Tianna Mighty, 11; Carmen Loewen, 3; Sydney Loewen, 2; Nicole Tucker and Allie Boehm, 1. Whyte Ridge scoring: Ruby Bains, Stacey Urban and Shelby Olson, 4; Kennedy Kuntz and Janessa Chudrick, 2; Erin Bailey, 1.
13-14 GIRLS DIVISION
Lindenwoods 25, Greendell Falcons 16
Lindenwoods scoring: Taylor Leonzio, 8; Adrianna Aiello, Brooke Turnbull, 4; Caitlin Menzies, 3; Christine Ahrens, Kate Lyn Knight, Jordyn Stewart, 2. Greendell Falcons scoring: Kenzie Raddysh, 12; Monique Kazadi, Victoria Esquivel, 2.
13 BOYS DIVISION
Richmond Kings 35, Oxford Heights No. 1, 24
Richmond scoring: Collin Ralko, 20; Aidan Watts, 9; Tanner Robb, 4; Marvin Fabro, 2. Oxford Heights scoring: Austin McBean, Jared Ferguson, Reggie, 6; Alex Stulzer, Justin Sinclair, 2; Riley Henderson and Hunter Macdonald, 1.
13-14 GIRLS DIVISION
Roblin Park Raiders 43, Selkirk Sonics 25
Roblin Park Raiders scoring: Kerilynn MacLennan, 16; Anna Caklic, 8; Madison Magnus-Walker, 6; Kaylee Hondubura, 3; Desiree Bedard, Paige Sands, Colleen Moyer, Meagan Masterton, 2; Selkirk Sonics scoring: Kesslyn Lycan, 6; Chelsea Ganske, 5; Naykia Massey, 4; Sarah Chaykowski, Malora Minarik, Kaila Kotowich, Bayllie Ans, 2.
13 BOYS DIVISION
Oxford Heights No. 2 34, Roblin Park Raiders 32
Oxford Heights No. 2 scoring: Nikolys Krasnowski, 10; Ryan Lewis, 7; Dadam Dejonckheere, 6; Aaron Lange, 5; Matt Genung, 4; Nathan Zayac, Aaron Breeze, 1.; Roblin Park Raiders scoring: Braedy Will, 16; Connor Derraugh, 10; Brandon Link, Jason Neufeld, 2; Michael Heaton, 1.
The tournament continues until Thursday, with games at 5, 6:15, 7:15 and 8:30 p.m.