Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Spartans basketball girls defeat top teams during Piper Classic romp

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The Sisler Spartans varsity girls basketball team stormed through the province's top teams over the weekend like they were breaking a full-court press, unseating three higher-ranked teams to win the Piper Classic, their first tournament of the season.

Spartans head coach Michael Tan said the team opted to pass on several tournaments earlier this season due to his players' academic commitments but made it count at John Taylor Collegiate on Saturday.

The Spartans beat the No.1-ranked Crocus Plains Plainsmen 83-66 in the championship final, the team that had beaten Sisler in last year's provincial final, and had earlier defeated the No. 3-ranked Oak Park Raiders and the No. 6-ranked River East Kodiaks in the first two rounds.

"We were really, really happy to have this win, it felt good beating them after losing such a big game to them last year," said Kayla Reyes, a Grade 12 Sisler forward who along with Jena Gallant, was charged with the task of guarding Crocus Plains star Danielle DeGagne. "We had a good strategy of trying to limit her opportunities, which is tough to do because she is just an amazing player. Everyone contributed in guarding her because when I got beat plenty of times, the help defence was good in helping to contain her."

Reyes, 17, said her team hopes the win will show other teams Sisler is ready to challenge again for the provincial crown.

"We weren't really the underdogs but it was kind of going that direction because we lost so many players from last year and some people didn't think we had the potential to do it again," she said.

Tan said the win was "a great morale-booster" but the team is keeping it in perspective.

"Our Grade 11 girls had never won a tournament before and our Grade 12 girls felt like they got to finish off something they started in a tough loss last year," said Tan, in his third year as varsity girls coach. "We talked in our post-game meeting, this win is behind us and Crocus is going to come out a lot harder the next time we see them."

Crocus is invited to Sisler's tourney Jan. 30-31.

In the Piper Classic boys' final, the St. Paul's Crusaders defeated the River East Kodiaks 96-67 with the Crusaders' Grade 12 guard Cam Norrie named tournament MVP.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2009 C4

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