Grads edge out senior Mustangs

Former basketball players return to Hope Secondary School for annual alumni games last Tuesday

Alumnus Jay Dongen soars above the block of Brendan Sullivan in the men’s game. The high school boys put up more resistance against the returning men

Alumnus Jay Dongen soars above the block of Brendan Sullivan in the men’s game. The high school boys put up more resistance against the returning men

“Even though they beat us, we felt their support.”

When a game can be played with smiles on many faces — and hugs after the match is over, you can see the true meaning of sport. Such was the case at the annual alumni games, last Tuesday night at Hope Secondary.

Senior girls’ head coach, Jeff Kuhn, said that even though the grads whomped his team soundly, “They were very encouraging to our team. The girls had fun and I think we used it as a good learning experience.

“This was my first alumni game and it was a lot of fun,” said Kuhn. “We were missing three players who, if they were there, would have made it a bit more competitive. There have been a lot of good players come through Hope and when you put them on one team, they are a force to be reckoned with.”

School vice-principal Tammy Nazarchuk and Carmen Mitchell, who were Hope Mustangs in the 1980s, made use of their height advantage under the basket and Richelle Willick’s 13 points — and Hannah Sauvé’s 12 helped pace the grads to a 70-26 win.

Morgann Steeves, who recalled being annually thrashed by the grads when she was in high school, enjoyed being on the winning side and contributing 10 points.

“How is it that the adults are so good, when they haven’t played in, like… forever?” wondered Mustangs point guard Mina Kim.

She can come back as a grad next year and find out.

The boys-to-men game followed at 8 p.m. The grads are usually pretty confident about beating the kids — but the high schoolers pushed back pretty well, not allowing any baskets in the first few minutes and only trailing by 10 at the half. The final score was not available by press time, though several people pegged it about a 20-point gap.

Grad of 2006, Kyle Kjemhus said, “It was a lot of fun this year. We had a really positive group of guys and we worked well together. I thought Linden Willock, [cousin] Wilson Willock and Nick Pauls stood out from the pack with their play and sportsmanship.

“I’m really proud of those guys, as I got to coach them a bit and get to know them while they were in high school. They’ve all become great players and even better young men. The senior boys put up a good fight this year and they were very well-coached.”

Kjemhus’ wife, Taylor — also a 2006 grad — said, “It was great to play with so many people that I know from my years at HSS. Playing with girls that I coached or played with five or six years ago was really neat.

“It was also a lot of fun having Tammy Nazarchuk and Carmen Mitchell out there with us. The game was competitive and I was impressed by the senior girls and how well they played together. I’m really looking forward to coming back again next year!

“We both want to say thank you to Becca Arrowsmith who organized this year’s game. She put in a lot of work and the game couldn’t have happened without her,” added Taylor.

Senior boys’ coach, Jake Giles said he was pleased with how his team played.

“I think they felt more comfortable around those guys, as they’ve played against a lot of them in open gym time. We played good, intense ball.”

Giles hopes to see more of the same when the season resumes after the Christmas break, with the boys hosting their Hoopfest on Jan. 10 and 11.