Express and Sharks win championships
A 48-32 win against the Similkameen Elementary Secondary School Sparks gave the KVR Express back-to-back South Zone Grade 8 Girls basketball championships.
The Express overcame a 22-16 deficit that started with a 6-0 lead to earn a berth to provincials. Azalya Kippenstein led the Sparks with 14 first-half points. The Sparks controlled the tempo as they were able to slow the pace and not let the Express pressure. A pep talk by Express coach René Aubin ignited his players.
“Team captain Lyndzie Caron came out of the locker room at halftime with a look of steely determination and anger with they way she played the first half. She told her teammates give me the ball and I will not let you down,” said Grade 8 basketball commissioner Blair Haddrell, adding that Caron scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half and dominated the boards.
Led by defensive most valuable player Annick (Havoc) Cole with five steals and eight points, tournament all-star Kyra Wallace with six steals and Tianna Apps with three steals, KVR’s “32-Minutes of Chaos” defence created turnovers and forced the pace to quicken.
The Express were able to generate lots of offensive chances with an aggressive offence, led by Caron, who was named MVP, she finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds. The momentum stayed on the Express side in the fourth quarter as it looked like the Sparks ran out of gas. All-stars Hannah Clarke and Cali Anderson were strong initiating the quick strike attack. The Express came into the playoffs as overwhelming favourites to repeat as they finished first in league play. They defeated each opponent by at least 12 points.
“KVR’s up-tempo style is fun to watch and successful because of the great shape the players are in,” said Haddrell. “This is a testament to the time and effort that coach Aubin puts into this team and to the willingness to learn and work that the players showed all year.”
The Express opened the championship by defeating Princeton and the Skaha Lake Middle School Sharks. The Sparks defeated South Okanagan Secondary School and McNicoll Park Dragons. The Dragons were able to come back after their heartbreaking to defeat the Sharks 40-33 to take third-place.
Patience was the key for the Sharks boys team, who went for the kill when they were ready. The Sharks won their third South Zone Grade 8 Boys basketball championship in four years.
The Sharks defeated the Osoyoos Rattlers 42-29 after trailing 9-3 in the first quarter. They have earned a berth to provincials.
Sharks coach Tim Haberstock kept preaching patience and with an extremely solid defensive effort, they were able to get it going.
“I sure enjoyed coaching a team that had more pride in their defence than offense,” said Haberstock.
Tournament MVP Prabh Chahal led the way offensively and defensively as he scored 21 points and guarded the Rattlers best player, Gurlal Dhaliwal.
“Prabh is a very gifted player,” said Haddrell. “You can tell he loves the game and if their is an opportunity to get in the gym and play, he is normally the first one there. Often great offensive players don’t take pride in playing defence, but Prabh is the complete opposite.”
Rattler Jason Lynch held Chahal in check during the first half to just six points. Chahal was able to take control after Lynch had foul trouble early in the third quarter. Defensive MVP Hunter Linder did a great job of defending Dhaliwal, the tournament all-star, and cleaned up the boards. The defensive intensity in the game was high. The Rattlers play a very physical style that their first two opponents could not match.
“This game was intense from the start as the referees warned a number of players early in the first quarter to stop when the whistle blows, and to watch the body contact,” said Haddrell.