The St. Gabriel the Archangel Guardians senior men’s basketball team won their second straight Division 3 Urban Championship on March 12.
As they narrowly missed out on the chance to represent Chestermere at the 3A Provincial Championships this weekend, the St. Gabriel the Archangel Guardians senior men’s basketball team celebrates a second consecutive City Division 3 banner .
Although the Catholic school for grades 7-12 is based in Chestermere, the Guardians varsity athletic teams play in the Calgary Senior High School Athletic Association (CSHSAA). This year’s senior men’s basketball team topped the Division 3 standings in 2021-22, posting a 9-1 record in the regular season and carrying that positive momentum into the playoffs.
After defeating the Robert Thirsk Comets 88-66 in the CSHSAA Quarter-Final and the Henry Wisewood Warriors 101-75 in the Semi-Final, the Guardians clinched the Division 3 City banner on March 12. Playing third seed Nelson Mandela United in the City Championship match, St. Gabe’s emerged victorious with an 84-73 scoreline.
Guardians head coach and St. Gabriel the Archangel teacher Darrell van Paridon said the players are excited to defend their title from 2020. (He noted there was no high school basketball season last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
“It had been a goal on their minds all year, and I think they knew with the squad they had it was an achievable goal,” he said.
According to van Paridon, the strength of the Guardians men’s basketball team this season was due to the familiarity the players had with each other, as most of them had been playing together since 7th grade.
He added that this year’s roster has a lot of experience, as the team was made up mostly of 12th graders, along with two 11th graders.
“There was really no hubris,” he said. “They celebrate everyone’s success. We didn’t have to fight egos, there were no complaints about minutes or roles. They were a real team in every sense of the word, and that made them really easy to coach.
Leading the team this season is senior guard Thomas Teshome, a star player who van Paridon says has averaged a triple-double for St. Gabe’s in virtually every game he has played.
“It’s led by Thomas, but Thomas himself is a willing passer who wants to see his teammates succeed as much as himself,” he said.
The head coach added that Teshome’s skill has caught the attention of several post-secondary basketball scouts this season, both locally and from other provinces.
“We had interest from Briercrest in Saskatchewan and there was a bit of interest from the University of Winnipeg,” van Paridon said. “Mount Royal coaches are actively pursuing him and he was invited to ID camps in British Columbia. I believe Simon Fraser was one of the ID camps, and he was also invited to ID camp. University of Calgary ID.”
The Guardians fought their way to first place in the regular season, outscoring opponents CSSHSA 855-572 in their 10 league games.
But while the road to the City Championship game was fairly straightforward, van Paridon admitted there was some uncertainty as the Guardians line up against United on March 12. St. Gabe’s and Nelson Mandela had not faced each other during the regular season.
The two teams had developed a recent history of rivalry, according to van Paridon, as they also faced off for the City banner in 2020.
“We always knew that they were the ones who challenged us in previous years,” he said. “Obviously last year there was no basketball because of COVID, but the year before it was Nelson Mandela against St. Gabe’s for the city finals, we So we thought this pattern could repeat itself.”
Thanks to a strong team performance led by a 47-point performance from Teshome, van Paridon said the Guardians managed to win the hard-fought title game.
“We told the players that winning a banner was fantastic,” he said. “Not many people have that opportunity or go that far. But doing it with your best friends is very special.
Despite winning another city title, van Paridon said the Guardians struggled to take their chance at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) 3A Provincial Championships, which will be held from 17 to March 19.
According to van Paridon, St. Gabriel was the only 3A team in its zone that wanted to fight for a place at the provincials. With no local opponent to face, he believed the team would automatically earn a place in the tournament.
However, he said the ASAA arranged for St. Peter the Apostle Catholic High School in Spruce Grove, a top-10 ranked team whose senior men’s team lost their qualifying game to attend. at the provincial championships, travels to Chestermere on March 14. to face the Guardians. The winner would earn a place in the provinces.
St. Gabe’s fought hard in that game, van Paridon said, but lost 85-74.
“We ended up losing a nail biter on our home turf,” he said. “The controversy was the bureaucracy behind it all. Saint Peter the Apostle had two chances to enter the provincials, and we only had one chance. Technically we were undisputed and should have taken the only place.
“They beat us, so they are the better team and they should know that. I just thought the controversy was that they were coming into our area and taking our place.
Considering all but two of the Guardians graduated from high school this spring, van Paridon said next year will see an almost entirely new senior boys’ basketball roster.
But he added that back-to-back Urban Championships have created a culture of winning at St. Gabe’s – a culture he hopes will continue.
“It’s hard to say because it was my first year [coaching the senior boys’ team], so I didn’t go too deep into the depth maps,” he said. “It will be a completely different team, but the expectation is to compete.”