Staff and submitted
For the third consecutive year, the Bluffton Stingers Boys Basketball Team has captured the CWAJHAA championships.
Under the direction of school principal and head coach Nolan Krauss, the Stingers captured the crown during a tournament held at the Ponoka Composite High School on March 13 and 14.
The Stingers defeated their old nemesis the Bentley Panthers in the final, the same team they defeated in the previous two finals. In order to reach the finals, the Stingers defeated St. Matthew’s of Rocky Mountain House 77-24 earlier in the tourney and beat coronation by a score of 59-32 in the semi-finals.
“The team was determined to get back to the championship game this year and they certainly showed up with that mindset for this game” said coach Krauss. “The boys really played aggressively against the Coronation Saints. With team captain Mackenzie Stout limited due to illness, the other players on the team took to the court and stepped up their games in his absence.”
Krauss said this year’s version of the Stingers is not typical of a junior high school team.
“This year we enjoyed team depth and the boys skill development of this year’s squad was quite exciting,” he said. “Heading into the game it was an exciting time for many of the boys including seven Grade 9 students who would play in the tournament for the last time as they move onto their high school careers in the fall. It was also comforting to the new players as a number of the boys had been here before over the last couple of seasons.”
Krauss said his team came out aggressive right off the initial jump ball against Bentley with all the players hitting their shots with pinpoint accuracy while taking advantage when the opportunities presented themselves driving hard to the net. The Stingers jumped out to an early lead and went into the half with comfortably ahead.
Bentley was not interested in going down easily and put up an impressive second half run but in the end the Stingers were simply too much for the Panthers.
“It was a fine reward for a season where the boys went a perfect 12-0 in their Wolf Creek league play and we were the representatives of the West in the league final,” Krauss said.
“At the start of the season we set high goals for what we wanted to accomplish as a team. We placed a heavy emphasis on fitness and conditioning as well as fundamentals of the game early on in the season. It was soon apparent that the boys were ready to work on their transitions and team offences. I’m very proud of the boys and what they accomplished this year as a team.”
The coach added that things look good for next season as well as a number of players will be returning next year to take another run at a championship.