Defensive focus nets Express Hooper Bowl

Jordyn Kowalchuk fights for possession of the ball during the KVR Express’s opening game of the Hooper Bowl last Friday. The girls were perfect in four games and won the tournament.

Defensive focus nets Express Hooper Bowl

Jordyn Kowalchuk fights for possession of the ball during the KVR Express’s opening game of the Hooper Bowl last Friday. The girls were perfect in four games and won the tournament.

Defeating Skaha Lake Middle School 36-21 in the final netted the KVR Express Grade 8 girls team the 2011 KVR Hooper Bowl.

Express coach Blair Haddrell said his player’s work ethic was the key the entire weekend.

“No matter the score, they focused on playing hard and keeping the intensity,” he said.

The Express utilized their team speed and size to defeat Grand Forks 51-7, Princeton 48-27 and Abbotsford 49-18 to push them into the final. Haddrell’s group is made up of rookies. From time to time, he said, their inexperience pokes through.

“It has been a great year with the girls working incredibly hard and doing a lot of really good things,” said Haddrell, who has guided the Express to a 22-4-0 record. “Skaha Lake is a very aggressive team that applies pressure for the entire 32 minutes. We were able to do a good job of battling through this pressure but we committed way too many turnovers and will have to work to clean that up.”

Haddrell did see improvement in his team defensively as they have worked on that all season.

Annie Plant led the charge on the offensive end. She was able to drain five three pointers over the weekend and averaged 12 points and six assists per game. 

“She sees the floor very well and is never afraid to shoot the ball,” said Haddrell of Plant, who was named among the players of the tournament. “She likes the pressure of being the opponents defensive focal point because she likes to pass the ball to her open teammates.” 

Also helping the Express offensively and named player of the tournament was Chantelle Mozart coming off the bench. She used her great hands to start break-outs as well as her size and strength to her advantage. The Express coach was also pleased with Tessa Lannon, Lily Stocker, and Carleigh Dean who were recognized as players of the tournament. They stepped up their games and were challenged with facing the opposition’s top guards. Because the trio plays differing styles, they were effective in getting the opposition off

their game.

Jordyn Kowalchuk of the Express was awarded an all-star medal for her great play with the ball. 

“She has worked hard to improve her defensive positioning and wants to take on tough defensive assignments,” said Haddrell. 

The girls team is off to Lumby this weekend for a tournament then the playoffs follow the next weekend.

On the boys side, the KVR Express finished fourth out of six teams.  They defeated Grand Forks and Kalamalka and lost to Abbotsford and Sahali, both very good teams.  Tournament all-star went to Colin Eden, who did a great job of leading the offence with his excellent ball handling. JJ Stoll, Derek Schenk, Cam MacArthur, Connor Walkinshaw and Paul Garcha put in strong efforts for the Express.                  

 “We were short five players over the weekend but the boys really stepped up,” said Express coach René Aubin. “They learned a lot playing against some tough competition.”

Skaha Lake defeated a tough Abbotsford team in the final 42-31.  A balanced lineup has helped the boys team become strong. The ability to play with speed is expected to help them have a successful South Okanagan playoffs.