BEFORE the provincial semifinals even began, the Glenlawn Lions varsity girls basketball squad already had their toughest rival in their sights and were chomping at the bit at the thought of facing them in the final fight.
The Oak Park Raiders. The team that beat Glenlawn, the defending provincial champs, three times in their undefeated season. The top-seeded squad going into the playoffs, one above Glenlawn's second place. This is the team Glenlawn guessed they'd have to beat if they made it to the final, if they are to make a championship repeat.
Now, they'll get the chance to try -- while the Raiders will battle to win their first provincial championship since 2003-04.
At the University of Manitoba's Investors Group Athletic Centre on Thursday night, the semifinal games of the Milk AAAA Provincial High School Basketball Championship tournament played out just the way they were favoured to, sending both the Lions and the Raiders through to Monday night's final.
In the first matchup of the night, Oak Park dispatched the fifth-seed Sisler Spartans 80-47. Forward Kerilynn MacLennan led the scoring for the Raiders, picking up 22 points.
They'll face stiff competition from Glenlawn, who held off a second-half surge from the Miles Macdonell Buckeyes to win 67-50. It was the second-last game of Emily Potter's illustrious high school career -- she will head to the University of Utah to play Division 1 NCAA this fall -- and the 6-5 forward played true to form, racking up 29 points.
The provincial AAAA high school varsity hoops championships continue Friday with the boys semifinal games, which will see the Sisler Spartans -- who upset the top-seeded St. Paul's Crusaders last weekend -- take on the Kelvin Clippers at 6 p.m. The 8 p.m. semifinal will pit the defending champion Garden City Fighting Gophers against the 11th-seeded Sturgeon Heights Huskies.
The final matches are slated for Monday. The Glenlawn Lions and Oak Park Raiders girls teams will face off at 6 p.m., followed by the boys championship game at 8 p.m.