High school basketball season is over for everyone except championship contenders.
That includes Wellington Secondary School's senior AA boys' and senior AA girls' teams. Both Wildcats squads tip off the provincial championships today (March 6) in Kamloops.
Welly's senior girls go in ranked No. 4 in B.C., and also take a basketful of experience after participating at provincials last March, too.
"The fact that we went last year helps a lot, because the girls will be a little more focused; they'll know what they're walking into," said Nicole McRae, the team's coach.
What they're walking into will be a gym full of zone champions and other worthy competitors. The Wildcats bounced to blowout wins all season long, but there aren't a lot of blowouts in the brackets at provincial tournaments.
"In the past we've been able to get through not playing our best basketball," said McRae. "But now we'll need to play 40 minutes of good basketball in order to be successful."
The Wildcats would like to improve on their eighth-place ranking from 2011-12, and the coach said it would be nice to at least reach their No. 4 ranking this year.
"If we go 100 per cent all the way and we work our hardest and we know that we've worked our hardest each game, I think we'll be able to cope with that if we lose," said Victoria Brown, Wildcats player.
But they've been winning all year long, and made it this far, and they know what it might take to win a few more games.
"We're really prepared," Brown said. "The whole season we've been preparing for this moment."
The Wildcats boys, too, have had this tourrnament in their sights for a long time.
"We've been practising all year for this, we've got the talent so we just need to play our game," said Aaron Copley, 'Cats player.
He said the team doesn't necessarily need to do anything different to win games at provincials, just play simple, smart basketball. The things that worked all season long will still work, even with a higher calibre of basketball.
"It's not going to go up that much higher – it's just that the stakes are higher," Copley said.
GAME ON … The Wellington girls play Abbotsforsd Christian today at 1:30 p.m. and the Wellington boys take on Collingwood at 3:15 p.m.