Holy Trinity Knights win gold at provincial basketball championships

The win is a redemption after defeating Strathmore High’s team and builds from last year’s silver medal won by the Fort McMurray team.

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The Holy Trinity Knights are the best boys’ high school basketball team in Alberta after winning gold at the Alberta Schools’ Athletics Association (ASAA) 3A basketball tournament in Strathmore on March 16.

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The win is a redemption for the team after defeating Strathmore High’s team, the only 3A basketball team to defeat the Knights this season. The victory also builds off the silver medal the Knights took home at last year’s provincial finals. Last year, they lost 103-41. This year they rallied and squeaked out a victory with an 85-84 win.

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“The boys have worked really hard. Last year we lost by a large margin and the boys wanted to make up for that,” said Coach Grace Lokole. “There was a lot of anticipation going into the game.”

The narrow victory was won after a tough fight. The Knights were down for most of the final game. At one point they were down 17 points and were down 11 points going into the fourth quarter. The team rallied, tied the game and won in overtime.

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Lokole said the team prioritizes man-on-man defence, while their opponents used zone-based defence. It was a challenging change that the athletes eagerly embraced, said Lokole. This allowed them to dictate the pace of the game and hasten or slow the action.

An issue the team had to improve was keeping composure during adversity. Most victories were won with wide margins. The team averaged 100 points per game this season and scored between 50 to 60 points. When they were down or the scoring gap was tight, Lokole said it was important for the athletes to remain calm and work together.

“It’s been a long season. We weren’t guaranteed to get to the final so there’s been a lot of small milestones to get to where they have,” he said.

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The team was celebrated at a rally at the school on March 22. Mayor Sandy Bowman and Energy Minister Brian Jean gave speeches congratulating them, while Conservative MP Laila Goodridge boasted about the team’s victory in the House of Commons.

Lokole praised three athletes in particular. David Chijioke was part of last year’s silver medal team at the Arctic Winter Games. He was also part of the provincial team that won last year’s nationals and was part of the Knights last year.

Chijioke’s younger brother, Daniel, was the leading scorer at provincials. He averaged 35 points and 15 rebounds per game. The point guard, Ezeugo Akamadu, was critical in setting the pace of games. Lokole says the Knights’ seasonal points average would not have been possible without Akamadu.

Holy Trinity Catholic High School will host next year’s provincials after successfully bidding on the tournament.

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