The Morinville High women's basketball team dribbled their way to an unlikely silver medal at a tournament last weekend.
Heading into the Green and Gold tournament at Louis St. Laurent in Edmonton, the team was already facing several injuries that put them shorthanded.
"We are already low on [players] this year," said Alicia Diberardino, one of the coaches of the team. "One girl was out for personal reasons on Friday and then on Friday night we had issues with another player, so we were down to eight players already...and then in our Friday night game we had a girl twist her ankle so that put us down to seven."
To put those numbers into perspective, five players are allowed on the court in a basketball at any given time, and those players usually have some opportunities to sub out with players on the bench to preserve energy.
The team persevered through those absences and was able to fight their way to the gold medal game against Westlock on Saturday (Dec. 17) without a single player who was able to play guard.
"We had no one who is a true guard who we always put at that position," said Diberardino. "We threw in two girls in the position."
If that wasn't enough, the team had to deal with yet another injury.
"Around the eight-minute mark of the second quarter, one of our girls got knocked in the head and that put us down to six players."
As fate would have it, that player was one of the guards that the team had thrown into the position. This effectively forced them to play one girl for most of the game without much of a break.
"We only had our one girl, Sarah Luger," said Diberardino. "She was playing point guard the whole game...she knows the positions really well and she is our team captain, so we trust her."
"She ended up playing 38 minutes of 40 during that game."
Despite all of this, the team was able to fight their way to a slim lead late in the game. With only seven players, Morinville was giving a 14-player Westlock team all they could handle.
"It was neck and neck; we were leading for quite a bit of the game," said Diberardino. "Westlock came back and took the lead and our girls battled and took the lead back."
"We were up by about two points at the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter."
Unfortunately, fatigue eventually set in, and Westlock rattled off a few three-pointers to take a late lead. Ultimately, the gold wasn't meant to be, but considering the circumstances, a silver medal is quite an impressive consolation prize.
"At the end of the day I am extraordinarily proud of them and what they did," said Diberardino. "In our hearts, it wasn't a loss, it just proved how hard those girls were willing to work for what they want."