The NPSS senior boys basketball team almost had a perfect start to the 2018-19 season, losing in the finals of the DCSS tournament be five points last weekend. The team had two blowout wins before losing narrowly to an experienced Prince George Secondary team.
The Grizzlies were down early, but battled back, getting within three points with five minutes left, but were unable to make up the rest before time ran out.
“It was a good tournament with lots of positive things to take away. We really battled hard in the final, and showed great chemistry and did well on the things we’ve been working on in practice,” said NPSS Coach Curtis Haugan.
The team has a couple days to practice this week before heading to a tournament in Grande Prairie this weekend, Dec. 7 to 9, against teams from Grande Prairie Composite, St. Joseph Catholic High School, and Peace Wapiti Academy.
A year ago, the Grizzlies split their weekends between tournaments in Grande Prairie and Edmonton, but this year, NPSS is focussing more on the teams in their backyard.
“We didn’t win any of our Grande Prairie tournaments last year, so we’re hoping the more we play the teams close to us, the more good habits we’ll build and rivalries will start to develop,” Haugan said.
To do good this weekend and going forward, the team will need strong efforts from their starting backcourt of Earl Concepcion and Mason Miranda, two of the Grizzlies’ seven returning players who were in Grade 11 a year ago.
“These exceptional guards who run the offense for us and are tough to guard,” said Haugan.
NPSS is also boosted by the play of forwards Liam Peterson and Adam Nelson. Peterson, who’s in Grade 11, had a great tournament at power forward in Dawson Creek, getting lots of boards and timely steals.
While the team does suffer a bit by the departure of big man Mackenzie Jibrin to the Grant MacEwan Griffins, they are thriving by focusing on their skill set and what they do best.
“Anytime you lose a CIS-caliber, especially with the short supply of size in the North, it’s tough. We don’t have a lot of size, so we’re relying on our exceptional shooting, and are working on playing good defensive, pressing, and rebounding to keep us in games,” Haugan said.
Aside from improving their play on the court, the team is also working towards raising funds so that they can attend the 2019 Cali-Can Classic Basketball Tournament in Los Angeles, Feb. 5 to 10.
Haugan said the once in a lifetime opportunity is the perfect send-off for the team’s departing players. The team is holding a bottle drive the first week of January to help fund the trip.
Anyone who would like to support the team, or who will have a lot of bottles collected after the holidays, can contact NPSS Athletic Director Samantha Stackhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.