The St. Martin de Porres Kodiaks senior boys' basketball team achieved a major milestone this season, qualifying for the high-school provincial championships for the first time in the school's history.
The Kodiaks booked their berth in the Alberta Schools Athletic Association's (ASAA) 3A provincial championships on March 8 by beating Calgary-based West Island College 75-61, during a provincial qualifying match.
Head coach Rian Griffin said the St. Martin de Porres team has earned the right to represent their school and Airdrie at the upcoming provincials, which will be held March 16 to 18 in Wetaskiwin.
“It’s really exciting for our team to go for the first time in our school’s history,” he said. “The boys are really excited. They’ve played hard all year to earn this spot. We’ve played against some fantastic competition all year and some really good ball clubs that were well coached. It’s been good for us to be in this position.”
It's been a positive season overall for the Kodiaks, who finished their regular season with a 7-3 record in Division 3 of the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association (CSHSAA). Differing from Airdrie's public high schools who compete in the Rocky View Sports Association, the Kodiaks sports teams compete against Calgary-based schools.
After the regular season wrapped up in late February, St. Martin de Porres won their first playoff game, downing the Lord Beaverbrook Lords 104-97 on March 7. Their playoff run came to a close in the Division 3 semi-finals two nights later, when they lost 96-75 to John G. Diefenbaker. But tired legs may have been St. Martin's downfall, as it was the Kodiaks' third game in three days.
Even though they fell one win short of playing in the CSHSAA finals this season, Griffin said the players were excited nonetheless to extend their 2023 post-season by winning their provincial qualifier against West Island College.
“We’re really proud of this group,” he said. “It’s been an honour coaching this team and it’s been good to have this time with them. It’s sad to know the season will come to an end, but it’s been a really good group.”
This year's Kodiaks roster is comprised of six Grade 12s, five Grade 11s, and three Grade 10s. The team's two co-captains are seniors Nelson Lako, a centre, and Deni Owojori, a forward.
Owojori said the team's success this season has been due to the strong relationships formed among the group. He said everyone gets along well and strives to achieve the same thing.
“Everyone was able to bond together on and off the court,” he said. “Everyone is a teammate and a friend. We all had the same goal, which was to make playoffs, and I feel we've all put any differences aside to achieve that.”
Lako agreed with his co-captain, adding it's a privilege to have set a school milestone this season by qualifying for provincials in boys' basketball for the first time.
“We’re making history for our school, and it feels really great to be a part of what we’re doing this year,” he said.
Griffin concluded by saying he wants to thank the team's sponsor, Sierra Dental Clinic, for helping fund the Kodiaks' upcoming trip to Wetaskiwin for provincials. The school is still welcoming corporate sponsors.