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Knights golden in return to the hardcourt

Basketball: HTA boys win St. Joseph tournament in Red Deer
Sam Friesen of the Holy Trinity Knights wins a tip-off against the Hunting Hills Lightning during the St. Joseph Tournament in Red Deer. The Knights won the tournament, the team’s first competition since the spring of 2020. (Photo submitted)

Sam Aiello has seen just about everything in a quarter-century of coaching basketball and this year looks to be no exception. 

“It’s 13 brand new players this year,” said Aiello, head coach of the Holy Trinity Academy Knights senior boys basketball team. “This is my 25th year and the first time since year one that I’ve had 13 brand new players on our team.” 

Such are the challenges for high school sports teams coming off a season that didn’t happen in 2020-21 due to pandemic restrictions in place at the time. 

Though new, the Knights showcased what could be a promising season with a tournament title in its first competition since the spring of 2020 at the St. Joseph Tournament, Dec. 3-4 in Red Deer. 

“They’re really coachable, nice kids, hard-working and we’re still just trying to get familiar with each other,” Aiello said. “It’s been a really good start with these kids and nice to start to get to know these kids.” 

HTA’s roster features two sets of brothers in Jack and Raymond Gilbert along with Josh and Lucas Barlow. The Knights have three seniors in Josh Barlow, Eric Bjorge and Tyson Sharkey. 

The Knights were able to get in a half-dozen practices prior to the tournament with six of its 13 players finishing up the football season with the school. 

“Everybody got lots of playing time this weekend,” Aiello said. “Everybody got lots of minutes, everyone did well and hopefully we can figure out what our depth is and this weekend it looked pretty good. 

“The early indications look pretty good.” 

In Red Deer, the Knights eclipsed the McCoy Colts 72-48 in the tournament final led by a 21-point game from Josh Barlow with Marcus Abrenica adding 13 points and Xavier Krueger bringing down a team-best 11 rebounds. 

Earlier in the competition, HTA overpowered Hunting Hills 96-53 with Abrenica pacing the offence in a 21-point performance to go along with seven steals. Krueger had 18 points and Josiah Gustafson added 11 points and nine rebounds. 

“(Marcus) is a real natural scorer and just has a real knack for the basket,” the coach added. “He’ll definitely be a player to watch out for.” 

The Knights opened the competition in a 90-60 triumph over the host St. Joseph Falcons. Abrenica again led the way 16 points while point-guard Sam Sloan added 13. 

“It was really more nervous excitement that I got from our guys this weekend,” Aiello said. “I just think they got a little more comfortable with each game that they played. 

“And it was just a good feeling to be back in a gym, watching kids play and even for their families it was kind of a nice change of pace...It was just nice for the kids to be back on the court, having fun and playing with their friends.” 

The Knights will look to keep the good times rolling when league play tips-off this week. 

HTA, the defending Foothills Athletic Council champions, begin league action on Dec. 6 in High River against the Highwood Mustangs and have its home-opener on Dec. 8 against the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans, a 7:15 p.m. start at the Knights gym. 

For full FAC league information go to 

Remy Greer

About the Author: Remy Greer

Remy Greer is the assistant editor and sports reporter for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact
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