Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Madness spreading to Manitoba

High school AAAA hoopsters set for their own Final Four

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It's all talk right now. Talk about respect, talk about how the 2011 AAAA Manitoba High Schools basketball Final Fours -- both boys and girls -- is a wide open field with any of the eight teams still standing legit contenders.

And, of course, that's all true.

But as representatives of the remaining teams gathered Tuesday for a press conference to hype the semifinals Thursday and Friday and next Monday's championship games, it was easy to get the impression all the coaches and athletes were just itching to ditch the formalities and get on the court.

After all, talking about winning is one thing. Doing it when it matters is why these teams play the game.

March Madness? Yes, that sounds about right.

"It kinda feels like winter is over," said Oak Park Raiders boys head coach Jon Lundgren. "The snow is melting today and everybody's excited about the (NCAA) tournament starting and everybody's got their brackets filled out. I think it spills over to the kids here with March Madness.

"How do handle the pressure? You just play. You try not to focus on what could happen if you lose or if you don't play well. You try to focus on the process of just taking it game by game. Obviously if you're at this point you've been successful throughout the year."

Two champions will be crowned and countless memories will be made through the semifinals and finals.

Here's a look at the MHSAA 2011 AAAA High School basketball Final Four matchups (all games at the University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre):



Semifinal 1, 6 p.m. Thursday

(2) Oak Park Raiders vs. (3) Crocus Plains Plainsmen

The Raiders

Record: 8-1: Overall N/A

Coach: Murray Brown

Key players: Brittany Rosenfelt; Deanna Cutler; Aimee Harrison.

The Plainsmen

Record: 6-0 in league play; 18-6 overall.

Coach: Barb Coulter.

Key players: Tia Coulter; Josie DeGagne; Brittany Wiebe

Quotable: "There are four good teams right now. River East has been No. 1 most of the season, Crocus Plains is a tremendous team with a lot of size; St. Mary's has Alicia Ogoms who is a tough match-up for anybody and our team is playing well right now. We're a physical team that shoots the ball well." -- Raiders head coach Murray Brown.


Semifinal 2, 8 p.m. Thursday

(1) River East Kodiaks vs. (5) St. Mary's Academy Flames

The Kodiaks

Record: 9-0 in league play; 25-2 overall.

Coach: Kristen Asmundson

Key players: Brittany Koop; Emily Loewen; Shaudee Fulford.

The Flames

Record: 7-2 in league play; 18-10 overall

Coach: Deb May

Key players: Alicia Ogoms; Kaela Cranston; Jenn Indome; Christa Aguinaldo.

Quotable: "The (River East) girls in (Grade) 12 this year won Grade 9 and 10 Provincials and last year had a tough learning process, being mostly Grade 11. Last year they played more like individuals and they really had to learn this year to play more like a team. They've done that and we have a very balanced team this year. It's an experienced group. They have a confidence and aren't nervous at all." -- Kodiaks head coach Kristen Asmundson.



Semifinal 1, 6 p.m. Friday

(1) Garden City Fighting Gophers vs. (4) St. Paul's Crusaders

The Fighting Gophers

Record: 12-0 in league play; 27-2 overall.

Coach: Phil Penner

Key players: Jordan Kelly; Chris Benevides; Andre Arruda-Welch.

The Crusaders

Record: 6-3 in league play; 17-5 overall.

Coach: Jeff Laping

Key players: Joey Nitychoruk; Quinn Robertston-Stovel; Greg Gorlick.

Semifinal 2, 8 p.m. Friday

(2) Sturgeon Heights Huskies vs. (3) Oak Park Raiders

The Huskies Record: 8-1 in league play; 25-5 overall.

Coach: Stephen Tackie

Key players: Amrajit Basi; Eben Rawluk; Garrick Hustal; D.J. Dupasquier.

The Raiders

Record: 7-2 in league play; 25-3 overall.

Coach: Jon Lundgren

Key players: Elliot Taylor; John Kingman; Cash Blanca

Quotable: "Our strong point is we've got really strong guard play with Elliot Taylor and Cash Blanca and Junior Sesay. They're all dynamic guards who are a threat to score and inside we've got some bruisers, some football guys who come over and help us during the basketball year. We've got a nice mix of the inside and the outside."

The girls' championship final goes Monday at 6, followed by the boys at 8 p.m.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 16, 2011 C6

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