Calgary city champs hope to ride momentum of first Division 1 title
After an improbable victory in the city finals, the Notre Dame Pride are now setting their sights on a provincial basketball championship.
Pride players took their first step towards this goal Thursday, as they defeated Red Deer’s Notre Dame High School by a score of 84-57, sending Calgary’s Division 1 champions to the quarterfinals to face the Jasper Place Rebels Friday night.
The Pride are riding a winning streak that dates back nearly three months. The biggest win along the way took place March 10 when they ousted the defending champion Bishop Grandin Ghosts at a close score of 69-66 to win the school’s first city championship.
Despite having already knocked out Calgary’s No.1-ranked Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats, the Notre Dame Pride entered last Saturday’s matchup against Bishop Grandin as the underdog.
But being the dark horse is something that Notre Dame has seeminglythrived on.
“We haven’t really been ranked very high and we thought we weren’t getting a lot of respect,” McFarland said. “I told the team, ‘You guys are as good as anyone in this city. Let’s step up and play and show everyone that Notre Dame can play.’”
McFarland’s emphasis on collaborative teamwork helped propel the Pride underdogs into overachievers.
“There are no individuals on this team,” McFarland said. “Someone steps up every game for us and that’s what is pretty neat about this whole thing.”
Although the Ghosts came close to winning their second consecutive city title, the Pride held them in check throughout the game, forcing difficult outside shots and limiting second-chance opportunities.
Pride star player Emmanuel Joshua believes the team’s strong sense of teamwork and unity is what separates his team from the rest of the competition.
“I think that when we get to the tougher parts of games we can trust each other,” Joshua said. “When you can trust someone like that it just comes together. We are a family and hopefully a provincial championship is next.”
If the Pride gets past the Jasper Place Rebels tonight, they will be guaranteed a Top 4 finish along with Calgary’s Bishop O’Byrne Bobcats, who have already defeated the Lethbridge Collegiate Institution Rams and the Catholic Central High Cougars en route to the semifinals.
Edmonton’s Harry Ainlay Titans, and tournament hosts the Cardston High School Cougars have also earned their place among the final four teams remaining in provincial championship contention.
The finals take place March 17 at Cardston High School at 8 p.m.