After falling short last year of the Grade 8 South Zone championship, the KVR Express girls team made no mistake this time.
The Express downed arch-rival Skaha Lake Middle School Sharks 36-27 last weekend during the championship game.
The Express bulled through the competition as they started with a 40-3 win against the McNicoll Park Dragons.
They then defeated Similkameen Elementary Secondary School 43-21 to advance to the final. Express coach Blair Haddrell described it as a defensive battle as they led 14-13 at half time. Shinnaz Johal and Courtney Olexa each sunk two three-point shots to keep it close. In the second half, Anika Holowaty took over as she scored 16 points in the half to propel the Express to victory. KVR went eight-for-12 from the foul line in the final.
Haddrell said point guards Sydney Foster and Steph Ortiz did a great job of controlling the game. He also liked that his team played an up-tempo style while controlling the ball.
“Our press caused some trouble for all teams throughout the weekend and was a major reason for our success, as we were able to get a high number of steals off of it,” said Haddrell. “When we didn’t get a steal, we had girls ready to pester the other teams’ point guards.”
Haddrell was impressed with their execution as they utilized four different offensive plays. Haddrell talked about their play on the other side of the ball.
“We take pride in playing good defensively and the work ethic is excellent,” he said.
Foster, Sydney Clarke, Kelsey Rowlands, Shayla Watson and Ortiz led the way defensively as they were able to hold off Skaha’s top scorers. In each game, the Express had defensive strategies for every team.
“We knew going into the final that there were a couple girls for Skaha that liked to shoot threes and could make them, and we did a good job of making their life hard,” he said.
SESS placed third, while Holy Cross was fourth, Springvalley Middle School fifth, Princeton sixth, Osoyoos Secondary School seventh and McNicoll eighth.
Season All Stars: Zoe Konanz, Maya Vankataraman, Bailey O’Donnell, Taylor Pendegraft, Madison Terebasket, Kelsey Davie, Courtney Olexa, Sydney Clarke.
Playoff All Stars: Nykaila Wheeler, Lexi Grady, Stephanie Ortiz, Sydney Foster, Shayla Watson, Shinnaz Johal.
MVP: Anika Holowaty
Haddrell described his group as a true team with very balanced scoring to compile a 29-6 record.
KVR will attend the Grade 8 provincials in Pitt Meadows March 7 to 10. Going to the provincials was the Express’ second goal.
“The girls are excited,” he said. “It will be a great experience. It’s a good tournament. For some, it may be their only chance to go. I find that once they go to provincials, they want to return.”