Owls’ court teams fall in semifinals

Jamie Mountain

A gold medal just wasn’t in the cards for the Owl court sport teams in the NorWOSSA ‘A’ playoffs last Wednesday in Kenora.
All three teams failed to advance past their respective semifinal.
The third-ranked senior girls’ basketball team battled the second-place Atikokan Voyageurs tough, but just didn’t have enough in crunch time as they dropped a narrow 36-33 decision on Wednesday afternoon.
“They fought hard, played our game and worked hard to stay calm in the press,” enthused Owls’ coach Rebecca Tolen.
“They stuck to the plan.”
Rainy River led the Voyageurs 10-8 after the first quarter but the two sides were knotted at 19-19 by halftime.
A defensive struggle in the third saw the Owls trail just 26-23 after being outscored 7-4.
Kirsten Armstrong nailed a basket with 30 seconds left in the fourth to trim Atikokan’s lead to 34-33.
The Owls then got possession of the ball with 16.9 seconds to go, but turned it over on a long inbound play. The Voyageurs then score a layup to make it 36-33.
Atikokan then missed a pair of free throws to give the Owls one last glimmer of hope, but a last-chance shot was no good.
The Voyageurs advanced to face the top-ranked host St. Thomas Aquinas Saints on Thursday afternoon, claiming gold and a berth to NWOSSAA with a 38-32 win.
“We played great defence,” said Tolen.
“We could have moved the play more on offence, but it was really anyone’s game until the end.
“It was a great year. I didn’t expect us to be here this year,” she admitted.
“I asked them to totally change their style of play, I put a lot more emphasis on process and less on result in order to train them up for next year. With only one returning senior this year, I really thought this year would be more of a rebuilding year,” she added.
“I think next year looks really good. We have some great athletes coming up and I am holding on to 10 seniors. As long as they work as hard as they did this year, it should be a great season. I am truly looking forward to it.”
As for the third-ranked Owl juniors, they were simply outmatched as they dropped a 38-29 decision to the second-place host Saints last Wednesday afternoon.
The juniors led the St. Thomas Aquinas 13-10 after the first quarter but couldn’t build on that momentum as they trailed 20-17 at halftime.
The hosts pushed it to a 30-21 lead after three quarters before holding on for the win to advance to face the top-ranked Red Lake Rams for gold on Thursday.
St. Thomas Aquinas dumped Red Lake 31-21 in the championship game to hoist the trophy.
In junior boys’ semifinal volleyball action last Wednesday, the third-ranked Owls saw their season come to an end with a tough five-set loss to the second-ranked Pelican Falls Timberwolves.
The Owls started off great in winning the first set 25-21, but dropped the next one by a 25-22 count.
Then after claiming the third set by a 25-15 margin, the Timberwolves won the final two by scores of 25-23 and 15-6 to advance to the championship game on Thursday morning.
Pelican Falls settled for silver as they lost to the top-ranked Saints.
The Owl senior boys’ squad failed to qualify for the playoffs as they wound up in fourth place in the standings in the regular season.