The Yorkton Regional High School Raiders senior boys basketball team took another step forward in their road to a 4A championship this past weekend by winning their conference.
“I’m happy with how everything went,” said Raiders head coach Jason Payne. “I thought we played well and had a lot of guys contribute.”
Heading into the four-team conference tournament as the heavily favoured club, Payne preached to his club that they can’t underestimate their opponents with seniors playing their last high school basketball games.
“In March, you have to be aware that you’re going to be playing against teams with grade 12 players that are playing in their last games,” he said. “So they are going to be playing hard and are desperate to finish their high school basketball careers with a strong finish.”
In their first game on Saturday morning against Lumsden, the Raiders came away with a comfortable 78-44 win.
“We had a really good first half,” said Payne. “I expected the win since Lumsden is a program that is rebuilding this year.”
It was deja vu for the Raiders in their second game against Balgonie as they duplicated the score from their previous game in a 78-44 victory.
“Defensively, we played well I felt,” added Payne on the Balgonie win. “Everyone got an opportunity to contribute. It was nice to end with a win.”
In the pair of victories, the Raiders dressed some of their junior ballers to give them a taste of what to expect next year.
“We called up a couple of our junior team’s guards to show them the speed and the pressure of senior basketball,” said Payne. “I thought they played well. It was a good experience for them and will make things a little easier on them next year.”
Having seated fourth overall in their 4A league, the Raiders host a regional tournament this upcoming weekend. They kick it off against Humboldt on Friday at 6 p.m.
As the top-seeded team, Payne’s expectations are to come out on top.
“We have a strong team and I think it’s reasonable to aim to win it all,” said Payne. “We just can’t look too far ahead and just take it one game at a time.”
If the Raiders win their regional tourney, they head to Saskatoon the following weekend for the annual SHSAA Provincial Basketball Championship, Hoopla.
Winning Hoopla won’t be an easy task to say the least with red-hot clubs such as No. 1 seeded St. Mary’s High School in their way.
“St. Mary’s is the team to beat,” he said. “We have played them four times and they beat us badly in one in our own gym. There are a lot of other strong teams besides them, but everyone seems to measure themselves up against them.”