After their first week of league action, the Grade 8 and 9 Mustang basketball teams can hold on to the thought that “it can only get better.”
A tweak here and tweak there and the opponents will be getting less freebies and the Mustangs will be draining more shots. The scoring gap will narrow and the players will gain confidence.
There’s always that hope.
There’s always a chance to get a laugh out of their bungles, too, as has been apparent in the home games this past week. They don’t take themselves too seriously.
It’s a good thing that the shooting isn’t up to snuff yet. In the Grade 8 girls’ game against Chilliwack Middle School last week, a Mustang confidently grabbed a rebound and headed for the net.
Oddly, her opponents stepped back and let her shoot.
Her team-mates gasped in terror.
The shooter looked disappointed, as did the CMS players — but the other Hope players looked relieved. She had been shooting at the wrong hoop!
Arts teacher Jon Polishak is coaching the Grade 9 boys this year and he’s holding onto the hope that things will improve like they did the two other times he coached. He was in charge of the Grade 9 boys, the first year he came to Hope and then the Grade 9 girls a few years later. After a gap of a couple of years, he’s back at it.
“I remember, we lost our first three games of the season, then we came back and won five games straight,” said Polishak on Monday.
“I had a lot of the guys on this year’s team in my math class last year,” said the coach, who is better known for his high school drama productions. “We’ve only got seven players, so they’ll get lots of court time. They’ll need lots of stamina too.
“Some players have a lot of learning to do — but Blake Deschenes and Levi Sandberg are good ball handlers and shooters. Levi just about lives in the gym.
“We had our first game at A.D. Rundle last week and we lost by ten points,” said Polishak. “We only had six guys, too, as one of our players fouled out.”
The teaching staff continues to support after-hours sports but local citizens have also stepped up to help coach.
Jeff Holgate was an assistant to Jason Fisher in past years and has taken on the head coaching spot for the senior boys and Jeff Kuhn is coaching the Grade 8 girls.
Teacher Tammy Nazarchuk heads up the senior girls team and they had a good showing at their first tournament of the year, coming fourth out of eight teams at Summerland last weekend.
This weekend, the senior girls host their annual Winter Invitational, with teams coming from as far away as Rossland, Quesnel and Fraser Lake.
Action starts at 2 p.m. on Friday, with Hope taking on Rossland. If the HSS students value school pride more than their academics, it could be a tough game for the guests, as there’s a plan to stack the stands with Mustang-backers.
“We’re having a buy-out for the last class,” said athletics coordinator Alicia Dubois on Monday.
“Each student has to donate one dollar or a food item to get out of the class and into the game,” she said. “It has to be the full class, or not at all, to avoid having some kids head out the door early.”
Hope’s next game will be at 8 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, depending on the outcome of the first game. Each of the eight teams has a three-game guarantee and the public is welcome to attend, with no door charge.
On Tuesday, Dec. 13, the annual alumni game should draw a good crowd, as players from the past come back to show that they’ve still “got it.”
2008 grads Kaileigh Schofield and Karli Tepasse are leading the alumni efforts, organizing fundraisers that will help the senior teams with their transportation expenses.
The girls’ game will start at 6 p.m. and the boys should start by 8:15, said Schofield.
“We’ll be doing 50/50s and we have 2 contests that will go on between games,” said Schofield. We’ll have a half-court shot for 13 and older — and whoever wins will get $150 cash. There’s a three-point line shot for 12 and under and whoever wins that will get $50 cash. If there’s a tie, there will be a shoot-out.
“Those prize were donated by Andy Tepasse and Dave Radmore from Remax, as well as Ken Svensrud from Cascade Cleaning.
“There will also be raffle prizes that were donated by families & business throughout the town,” she added. “Admission is by donation.”
Schofield said they would be firming up numbers this week, on which alumni would be attending. She and Tepasse are in for sure— as are husband and wife, Kyle and Taylor Kjemhus.
The seniors will have their work cut out for them, added Schofield.
“They haven’t beaten us yet.”