The Chestermere Lady Lakers is hoping to prove last season was just a minor blip from tradition.
Chestermere High School’s senior girls’ basketball team enjoyed a five-season dynasty in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) from 2014 to 2018, before the Cochrane Cobras spoiled the squad’s championship streak last season.
Despite boasting a young roster, with just four seniors, head coach Dan Isbister said the ultimate goal is for the Lady Lakers to reclaim the division title, while continuing to improve as a group.
“We’re actually younger and more talented this year than we were last year,” he said. “But we’re still trying to develop and get the girls to do what we want them to do.”
The players certainly did what Isbister wanted them to do Dec. 3, as the Lady Lakers comfortably downed the Bert Church Chargers 61-43 to kick-start the 2019-20 season.
Point-guard Hannah Nerhi led in scoring for the visiting Chestermere squad, putting up 16 points, including 15 in an explosive second-half performance.
“It’s great, because she’s probably not our primary scorer,” Isbister said. “She’s probably in the rank of third or fourth, so for her to come and have that type of game [was great].”
The Lady Lakers started strong in Airdrie, taking a 25-16 lead into the halftime break.
The RVSA basketball league kicks off tonight. In senior girls action, the @ChestermereHigh Lady Lakers currently lead the @BCHSChargers 16-5, midway through the second quarter. pic.twitter.com/LEOfGTZLV3— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) December 4, 2019
Nerhi’s pinpoint shooting from behind the arc in the third and fourth quarters helped double the Lady Lakers’ lead from nine to 18 points.
“[Nerhi] is like that – she can score in bunches, which is nice to have,” Isbister said. “We’d like her to be a bit stronger on defence, but she’s a good player.
“She Euro steps better than I’ve seen most kids do, and she does it naturally. She hit some nice jumpers in the fourth quarter, and that really helped us out.”
Along with Nerhi, Chestermere will look to Grade-11 player Kiah Isbister for points this season. Kiah, (Isbister’s daughter) led the team in scoring last year as a sophomore, and registered eight points in the Dec. 3 game against Bert Church. Another player who can sink plenty of shots, according to Isbister, is Abbigail Farrell, who came to Chestermere from Texas.
32-24 with 3:39 to play in the third. pic.twitter.com/yE46ria1j2— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) December 4, 2019
“We’re really solid at wings, but where we’re struggling is some of our [centers],” he said. “One of our [centers] was away for volleyball, so she’s just getting back into the groove of things.”
Chestermere dominated in 2017-18. With a roster that included 11 seniors, the team barely faced a challenge en route to its fifth straight RVSA banner, averaging more than 100 points and conceding fewer than 25 per game. But last season, the Lady Lakers fell one step short.
“We got to a good spot last year, so we’re hoping we can do the same this year,” Isbister said. “[Most of these] girls are going to be in the program for the next few years, so there’s going to be some rotation coming through.”
Away from the RVSA, Chestermere will look to fine-tune its chemistry in various weekend tournaments. According to the coach, the team has already competed in one tournament, winning one game and losing two at the Holy Trinity Academy Knights Classic in Okotoks Nov. 29 and 30.
RVSA basketball games take place on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, with senior games kicking off at 7:45 p.m. For a full schedule, visit bit.ly/2LnpZQA