When the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association girls basketball rankings were released, one name stood out among the crowd.
In late December, the first period 2018/2019 3A rankings came out and the St. Joseph High School Falcons made the list in the eighth spot.
It’s just the second year for the program and with six grade 10s, a handful of grade 11s and no grade 12 players, the results so far this year have been a pleasant surprise.
They are 3-1 in Central Alberta league play, their only loss in overtime to the 4A Lindsay Thurber Raiders. They made the finals of a tournament in Leduc, played in the U.S. and are chasing down the Wetaskiwin Sabres, the third-ranked 3A school in the province.
“Just for such a young group to be able to play at the level they are, is pretty satisfying as a coach– to have them at that level so quickly,” said Falcons head coach Rob Blais.
“Everybody was saying wait until next year. We’re good this year. Next year we’ll be even better and then when these grade 10s, get to grade 12, they’ll be even better yet… it has been a really great experience.”
Leading the way for the Falcons is grade 10 guard Taylor Blais. She’s averaging over 20 points a game this season and said the major reason for the team success this year is chemistry. Rob coached many of the team in grade 7 at St. Francis Of Assisi Middle School.
“I feel like we work really well together because we’ve been playing with other for a little bit, so it’s been good,” Taylor said.
“Since we know each other, we are able to see things that we wouldn’t have been able to. Better ball movement.”
Taylor added that her individual success has come from simply trusting her shooting ability. She is shooting over 40 per cent from three-point range.
“Been doing a pretty good job shooting I think I’ve helped the team out that way,” she said.
“And defensively, because we play a 2-3 zone. We’re able to stop teams like that because we don’t have that many bigger players.”
Along with Abby Gyori and Jamie Robertson, who was hurt recently, the Falcons are making noise in Central Alberta.
The Falcons boys also got a surprise in the first period rankings, getting an honourable mention among 3A schools.
High school basketball action restarts after the exam break on Feb. 5 with games all across Central Alberta.