Lakers senior girls are AAA Okanagan Valley basketball champs
The Pen High Lakers senior girls basketball team are AAA Okanagan Valley Champs.
“Cinderella is going to the ball,” said Lakers coach Lesley Lacroix in an email.
Lacroix added that Pen High hasn’t won a Valley Championship or gone to provincials since 2007.
They ended that streak after dumping the Salmon Arm Jewels 70-49 in Kelowna Saturday.
The Lakers pulled off the big win with their usual top scorer Emily Clarke playing through a sprained ankle and finishing with five points.
Prior to the game, Lacroix said she was thinking what a great athlete Clarke was and that she never got hurt.
“Three minutes into the game she went down,” said Lacroix. “Her ankle is bad.”
Lakers co-coach Lauren Calancie and one of the players’ mothers, who is a doctor, looked at Clarke right away and determined it wasn’t an acute sprain. Clarke was taped up and hobbled to the bench indicating to Lacroix she was good to go.
“She struggled,” said Lacroix, who added that she will take time off to recover for provincials.
“It hurt quite a bit but I kept it moving the whole time,” said Clarke, wearing an ice pack while speaking with the Western News. “Did what I could, and I guess it worked in the end.”
Clarke was determined to play because of the significance of the game and felt it was worth it. What impressed her about the team’s performance was how they maintained their intensity level.
“With me being hurt, Natasha (Reimer) sick, Hayden (Craig) hurt, and we still played hard, so that was awesome,” said Clarke. “We still came in with a mentality of to give it our all.”
Reimer, battling the flu, rang up 22 points, while fighting for 21 rebounds. Reimer’s efforts earned her most valuable player honours. Craig continued her strong play as she battled for 12 rebounds, while dropping 17 points and earned a spot on the all-star team. Lacroix liked that her players competed the entire game, something that allowed them to have a strong second-half of the season. After watching the Jewels upset the South Kamloops Titans with their shooting, Lacroix said they had to stop that.
“We just got them out of their rhythm with our press,” said Lacroix, adding that offensively the Lakers moved the ball up the floor quickly.
Lacroix was nervous before the game, as she always is, but said her players likely weren’t.
“They are not an overconfident group, but they are a confident group,” she said. “They didn’t come in thinking, Oh this will be an easy game. It was a close game. The score doesn’t look like it at the end.”
The difference, said Lacroix, was the Jewels were not able to keep up with the Lakers pressure and their key players got into foul trouble.
“I think we worked really well together as a team,” said Craig. “We all had confidence. I think that really paid off.”
Ana Moroziuk and Tessa Lannon-Paakspuu put full court pressure on the Jewels and combined for 14 steals. Lannon-Paakspuu added 13 points, while Moroziuk finished with 11. They joined Craig on the all-star team.
Clarke was awarded the AAA Okanagan Valley Scholarship Award for her play and academic achievement throughout the season. The Lakers will represent the Okanagan at provincials in Langley at the Langley Events Centre March 6-8.
AAA Sweet 16 - Seeding for the 2014 ‘AAA’ BC Championships
1.Holy Cross, Surrey
3.WJ Mouat, Abbotsford
5.Oak Bay, Victoria
9.Fleetwood Park, Surrey
12.Argyle, North Vancouver
13.Handsworth, North Vancouver
16.Mt. Baker, Cranbrook
The Lakers will matchup against No. 9 Fleetwood Park from Surrey.