Superb start for Sal Sabres basketball squads in home tourney

The Salisbury Sabres senior girls basketball team won gold in the newly-named Jim Lazaruk Memorial Tournament. Photo Supplied

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It was the perfect way to honour a man who meant so much to their school over the years.

Not only did Salisbury Composite High School rename their annual Senior Sabres Classic basketball tournament the Jim Lazaruk Memorial Basketball Tournament this year following the passing of the popular and prolific former coach earlier this year, their teams further made the newly-named event by winning both the girls and boys gold medals.

Lazaruk co-guided the Sal Sabres senior boys basketball team from 1973 to 1975 before taking over the senior girls program for a lengthy and highly-successful run from 1976 all the way to 2004, even returning as an assistant for the team in 2009 and 2010.

During his tenure, the powerhouse Sabre girls won four city championships and subsequently made it to four 4A girls provincial championship finals, winning it all in 1987.

Those winning ways have rubbed off to the present day.

“The Sabre senior basketball teams started their seasons off the right way, with both of them winning their first tournament of the year,” said Sal athletic director Grant Melnyk. “This was their home tournament that used to be called the Sr. Sabre Classic, but has recently changed its name to the Jim Lazaruk Memorial Basketball Tournament, in honour of the late Jim Lazaruk. Jim had a tremendous impact at Salisbury, in athletics and especially in basketball. We are very honoured to host this tournament annually, to celebrate his involvement with the school and the community.”

The Sal Comp senior boys made it double gold at their home tourney this year. Photo Supplied

The Sabres senior girls were particularly strong as they steamrolled their way to gold on their side of the draw.

“They were the class of the tournament,” Melnyk said. “They defeated St. Joe’s and Morinville, leading them to the finals against Holy Rosary. The girls came out fast and dominated early play, en route to a 93-39 victory. This was a great start to their season. The girls are returning six players from their provincial, top-four, Division 1- finishing team last year. The team consists of four Grade 12 leaders in Courtney Bennett, Jill Wood, Makenzie Reeve and Zoe Grant and nine extremely gifted ballers — Grade 10 and 11’s Elli Calliau, Rebecca Gully, Ashley Lockwood, Haven Joseph, Delaney Caldwell, Jordyn Bennett, Olivia Oler, Tatium Davies and Jessica Coulombe. Third-year head coach Darren Caldwell is very excited to see what this team can do against the province’s best.”

The Sabres boys weren’t too shabby either, although their gold medal match was significantly tighter.

“The senior boys fed off the girls momentum with an exciting, well-earned championship win against Camrose, coming away with an 82-80 victory,” Melnyk said. “The boys were down six points with four minutes left, but chipped away and eventually overcame the deficit, en route to victory. First-year coach Kelly Husky was extremely happy to start the year off with some success. The senior boys then went on to defeat Edmonton Christian and M.E. Lazerte in their Metro Div. 1 Ability Round to solidify their position in Division 1 this year. Making Div. 1 is a huge accomplishment for the Sal senior boys, as they are the only school representing Sherwood Park in Div. 1 this year. This year’s Sabre senior boys team consists of Sheldon McNabb, Kaden LeBaron, Thomas Ecceles, Kolby Hurford, Randy Allen, Jared Rochette, Liam MacDonald, Lusk Husky, Aarsh Verg, Wes Gregersen, Quinn Kowalchuk, Kole Watson and Patrick Fisher. Sal is the only school in EIPS that has all four basketball teams playing in Division 1.

The Metro League high school basketball schedule officially launches on Dec. 9.

sjones@postmedia.com

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