The Estevan Elecs senior girls basketball team has had some early success following a pandemic-induced season off.
The Elecs dropped all three games in a Regina tournament in late November to begin their first season back. But they beat the hosting Indian Head team in the championship game in a mid-December tournament, and won against two of three teams in Swift Current this past weekend (wins against Wynyard and Weyburn, and a loss to the hosts).
Head Coach Jessie Smoliak called their tournament in Regina a "learning experience," as it was the first game action for the group, and they'd only practised twice before a one-day tryout.
Getting games and full-squad practices in has been a challenge.
They had tournaments in Moose Jaw and Prince Albert cancelled earlier this month, and players have had to miss practices because of illness and injuries.
Grade 12s Tiana Seeman and Lauren Kobitz are the only returning players to the team. The rest of the roster consists of a Grade 9, two Grade 10s, four Grade 11s, and three Grade 12s.
"Not having a season last year has surely hurt the program overall," said Smoliak, who added that the turnout for tryouts wasn't big.
She said they need to keep players on the courts in elementary school basketball and with the Estevan Student Basketball Association to keep a pipeline of players with skills and understanding of the game going into the high school ranks.
"My assistant coaches, Bridget Bjorndalen and Kourtney Kobitz, and I have really had to go back to the basics and get the team doing proper fundamentals rather than teaching them new offenses and defenses which is different for a senior team."
Smoliak said she's been impressed with the team's work ethic and dedication, and by how much the younger players have improved.
"I am also happy that we are getting to play rather than being shut down. It gives the girls something to strive towards and be involved with. I am a firm believer that school sports has such a positive effect on student athletes so it is nice that our ECS gym is busy and loud again."
The next tournament is scheduled for February 4-5 in North Battleford.
Following that, the McLeod Series is still slated to go February 8 in Weyburn and February 15 in Estevan, as the boys and girls teams square off in the annual home-and-home contest.