Barriere Secondary School Cougars shoot to fifth place in provincials

The Barriere Secondary Sr. Boys Cougars basketball team came away from the Single-A Provincials Championship (March 4-7) with a fifth-place finish after a three-win, one-loss record.

“It went awesome. Like the boys really wanted to win, obviously, but fifth place is a respectable position,” said coach Travis Repka. “So they’re the fifth-best Single-A team in the province, which is pretty darn good.”

Repka said he considered all their games as key, but one he highlighted was their third game against the Cedar Christian School. Barriere managed to score 75 points versus Cedars Christian’s 53.

“It was the game after we lost to Fernie, so it’s always tough to battle after a tough emotional loss and the boys really came together in the second half and played what we like to call ‘Cougar’ basketball and they rallied together.”

Another game he said, was the final one (against St. John’s), where the senior boys demolished the other team to the score of 92 – 62. Cameron Kerslake scored 26 of those points, also registering 11 rebounds, three assists and nine turnovers.

Their first game of the tournament was against Grand Forks, who they also scored 90 points against. Barriere only conceded 58 points. Tyson Schilling was the big player in that game, scoring a total of 26 points with 10 field goals and three three-pointers. He also recorded eight rebounds and two assists. Tanner Schilling and Aaron VanSickle also had 15 points each.

The Fernie Game was a close one, with Barriere losing 84 to 71 after conceding 25 points in the first quarter. Tyson Schilling was the team’s leading scorer again, with 27 points. Kerslake had 22 points. Kerslake also registered 10 defensive rebounds and five turnovers.

Kerslake, the team’s point guard, was named to the Second All-Star Team when the tournament wrapped up.

“As a coach, I’m just lucky that I get to coach those kids,” said Repka. “Cam got it but there were other players on our team as well but they [the committee] couldn’t give all three All-Stars to the fifth-place team. For me as a coach, it just makes me feel good that kids that put in hard work get recognized because that’s a guy like Cam.”

Aaron VanSickle and Tyson Schilling were two other players considered for the All-Star nod.

It was Repka’s first time coaching a team in a provincial tournament and he said that he’s learned a lot from the experience.

“You have to prepare your team for anything going in because you’re seeing teams you haven’t seen all year, so you kind of have to scout ahead. It was my first time at provincials, so I learned a lot myself when it comes to motivating, team management, as the week went on.”

He added that the team had to play two of their games at 8 p.m. and one of those things he learned was how to keep teenage boys focused and occupied while waiting to play those games.

The team would also like to express their thanks to the community for all the support, whether it was through donations, social media posts, or just sending texts of encouragement and congratulations.

“It was awesome to see how much support the boys got from the whole community of Barriere and the surrounding area.”

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