The history of the Viking can be traced back to the eighth century, but the North Battleford Comprehensive High School Vikings are looking to make a little history themselves in the 21st century.
Both the girls’ and boys’ senior basketball teams are heading to Moose Jaw for HOOPLA this weekend in search of provincial gold.
The boys are looking to defend their 4A title after earning gold the past two seasons. The girls’ team is back to regionals for the second straight year and, with nearly the exact same roster as last year, they are hoping to come home with a medal as well.
“Expectations are high,” said girls’ coach Bryan Cottini.
The girls’ roster has just one senior on their starting lineup, but most of this year’s starting five saw playing time in HOOPLA last season.
In North Battleford, at regionals on the weekend, Cottini said his team had their sights set on Prince Albert St. Mary, who had beaten the Vikings in two previous meetings this season.
After suffering their first loss in weeks at the conference playoffs one week earlier, the girls’ team was focused at regionals and refused to be denied a chance to play in HOOPLA.
Before the matchup with St. Mary, the Vikings beat Martensville 74-17. It was the second time in eight days the Vikings had a convincing win over Martensville. At conference playoffs March 11 and 12 at John Paul II, Martensville lost 80-13 to NBCHS.
In the regional final, the Vikings led St. Mary the entire way and other than minimal surges from Prince Albert at times, the Vikings held them off and captured one of four provincial berths.
Cottini said the final game of regionals was a credit to his team’s conditioning because all five starters were in the game for 40 minutes.
The senior boys’ team also hosted regional playoffs, but, unlike the girls, they were going into regionals with a first place finish in the conference playoffs.
In the Vikings’ first game, they got out to a safe lead and continued to control the play against Melfort.
“We were able to get our bench some work, and some playoff experience in our first game,” said boys’ head coach Jamie Sommerfeld.
The Vikings earned the 85-53 victory, as Cody Buziak was their top shooter with a game-high 23 points.
In the regional championship game, the Vikings and Moose Jaw Peacock refused to fall too far behind in the first half and Moose Jaw led by one point after 20 minutes. The game was a flashback of last year’s provincial final where the Vikings won 77-76 over Moose Jaw Peacock. In the second half, the Vikings avoided the one-point game, as they started to pull away and created a lead that was too much for Moose Jaw to overcome. The final score was 71-49 for the Vikings, who were led offensively by Jordan Wuttunee with 16 points.
“We didn’t lose control and our guys chipped away,” said Sommerfeld. “We settled in and made some shots and pulled away in the second half.”
The Vikings enter HOOPLA ranked third and will take on the second ranked Prince Albert St. Mary team. The other 4A boys’ semi final playoff game is between first ranked Saskatoon Evan Hardy and fourth ranked Lumsden.
The Vikings may be going into HOOPLA as an underdog, but after beating Prince Albert the last time the two teams met, Sommerfeld said that, since his team is the one team who put a chink in their armour, they know they can beat St. Mary.
Cottini’s team enters HOOPLA ranked second and will take on the highly skilled Humboldt team.
“They have skilled shooters, and a girl who plays on the provincial team,” said Cottini of his semi final opponents.
Expectations are high, but as Cottini said, anything can happen in high school sports whether it is an injury or illness or anything strange like that.
Both coaches expect some staff, students and parents to make the trip to Moose Jaw to give their teams the added boost. The boys and girls play back-to-back Friday at the SIAST gymnasium, and should be able to feed off each other and that hopefully leads to a North Battleford Comprehensive High School sweep.
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