Lakers looking for elusive provincial gold

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Before hitting the floor at the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association’s A/AA junior varsity boys’ basketball championship in Sprague from March 7 to 9, the Gimli Lakers will try to pick up where they left off last season.

At last year’s provincials in Treherne, the Lakers fell in the championship game, 63-54 to the Carman Cougars. This season, the Lakers are ranked third provincially in the A/AA JV boy’s basketball rankings behind the Cougars and the Niverville Panthers. Gimli’s best performance may have been in the Zone 5 championship at Fisher River High School where they defeated the Arborg Athletics 61-11 in the semifinals on
Feb. 26, and the Peguis Wolverines 70-24 in the final the next day.

“We had a good year. We had a good group of players coming back from last season,” Lakers head coach Jordan MacVicar said to The Interlake Spectator. “We had three of our starters and a couple of our role players that stepped into bigger roles this season … It’s a very hard-working group, a great group of kids to be around and fantastic basketball players as well.”

The Lakers went undefeated in exhibition play against other Zone 5 schools this season. They also finished third at a tournament in MacGregor in January before capturing their home tournament in February and losing to the Cougars in the final of a tournament in Carman a week after.

MacVicar describes his team as “balanced” on the floor.

“We play solid man defense. We run the floor well,” he explained. “We can fast break as well as most teams, but we can get into our motion offence and move the ball pretty well. We don’t rely on one or two things. We just do everything well.”

Michael Crave (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Tommy Pitman (21 points, 10 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles against the Wolverines and MacVicar is hoping those two and other players step up at provincials.

“Those are the guys who started last season, as well. (Pitman) is such a strong post player. He’s six-foot-four, he can play inside and out, he runs the floor well. (Crave) is an all-around phenomenal athlete,” he said.

With four out of the top eight ranked teams in the province in the event, MacVicar expects tough competition in Sprague.

“It’s as wide open as I’ve seen it in years,” he said. “There are probably seven or eight teams there that could take it.”