May 26th, 2024

Hawks Sr. boys cleanup at 4A basketball awards

By JAMES TUBB on March 23, 2024.

NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB Arinze Aniagu of the Medicine Hat High Hawks senior boys basketball dunks over a Raymond Comets player in the Hawks 81-77 on Purple Shirt night at Hat High on March 2.

The Medicine Hat High Hawks senior boys basketball team capped off a special season with more hardware.

After winning the South zone title for the first time in 10 years and finishing sixth at provincials, the Hawks had five players named as all-stars, two first-team all-stars, one second-team all-star and the league MVP.

Arinze Aniagu was named the league MVP and also received an all-star nod. Trey Watson and Jada Block were named all-stars and on the league’s first-team all-star list. Kyle Bertram was named an all-star and was on the second-team all-star, Ashraf Ismail rounded out the awards with an all-star participation.

Aniagu was surprised at the award win only because he hadn’t thought about winning an honour like that all season. He appreciated the honours and his teammates who helped him reach that level.

“It’s very special, I was surprised at first a little bit but for the coaches to recognize the hard work I put in and my peers too, so I’m very thankful for that,” Aniagu said.

“Our whole team was really good, so I thought they would give it to somebody else who was carrying us.”

Hawks head coach Chad Watson wasn’t surprised at all Aniagu won and was just as un-surprised to hear the Grade 12 athlete didn’t think of himself winning the award.

Watson, who also won his fifth coach of the year award at the all-star game hosted in Raymond Wednesday, says none of the awards would have been possible if it wasn’t for the combined effort from top to bottom.

“Reflecting back now, that’s totally what I see and I could not be happier on our season,” Watson said while looking up at the South zone banner. “A provincial championship would have been nice. But you know what, at the end of the day, the relationships I’ve built here this year and in my past 17 years here have been amazing and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Watson has announced he’s stepping down as the Hawks Sr. boys head coach, taking an assistant coach role and handing the reins over to one of his assistant coaches, Jeff Harrold.

After 17 seasons at the helm of the Sr. Hawks, with two zone titles, a third in provincials in 2014 and the five coach-of-the-year awards for Watson, who is Hat High’s athletic coordinator and serves as ASAA commissioner, says he no longer had the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to the job and wasn’t looking after himself while trying to wear all the different hats.

He’s enjoyed working with Harrold and says there was no doubt he was the right person to take over.

“I’ve been super lucky to work with him last few years, he changed our defense up and he’s been an assistant the last few years but he’s ready to be a head coach again,” Watson said. “I’m super excited for him to get this opportunity and see what he can do with it. I definitely know he’s itching and he’s ready to go, so he’s going to do a great job.

“His life is basketball.”

Harrold coached the Hawks Sr. girls team to both a South zone and provincial championship in 2015. He started coaching Grade 9 in 2009 and then coached the JV girls, Sr. girls and has been on the Sr. boys staff the last two seasons. He says he’s excited and humbled to take over the reins and work alongside Watson who will be able to spend more one-on-one time with players moving forward.

“Chad’s built an awesome program here, he’s a huge cultural piece as well,” Harrold said. “He’s done an amazing job and it’s really humbling that he chose me to take over. What’s nice is that we’re not losing him completely, he’s still going to be a big part of this, but tremendous honour to be a part of it. I’m really excited, I’m up for the challenge and I’m really looking forward to things moving forward.”

The Hawks Sr. girls had three all-star participants, Bella Leismeister, Halle Cahoon and McKenzie Giesbrecht.

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