The KVR Express train chugged its way to victory during its Winter Classic girls basketball tournament.
The Grade 8 team could not be stopped as they defeated the Clarence Fulton Secondary Maroons (Vernon) 37-19, Sahali Secondary Sabres (Kamloops) 51-14 and McNicoll Park Dragons 41-27 on the weekend.
Taking on the Dragons, Express coach Rene Aubin said that both teams play a similar style — fast paced offence and aggressive defence.
“Everyone was expecting an entertaining game,” said Aubin.
The aggressive style mentioned is how both teams opened the game. Hannah Clarke, the Express point guard and leading scorer for the weekend, and key players Annick Cole and Lyndzie Caron, got into early foul trouble. That trio did not play much in the first half. Aubin credited the depth of their squad for keeping them in the game. The Express held a five-point lead at the half.
Relentless pressure paid off for the Express in the next half to wear down the Dragons. Having an extra jump helped the Express outscore the Dragons 22-13 to seal the win.
“Overall we are being successful because of our desire to win,” said Aubin. “We have some details to work out to maximize our potential as a team. If we can figure those out, we will truly be a force.”
The Express coach added that going in, they wanted to improve their communication on defence and on offensive reads. They also wanted tighter transitions. Another goal was to get a look at the Dragons and where the Express are in relation to them.
“Their coach Nick Korvin has been working with the girls for the last two years and they are pretty athletic,” said Aubin. “We figured them to be one of our main competitors in the South Zone.
“I was really impressed with the way the team stepped up in the second quarter to compensate for the players that were out due to foul trouble,” added Aubin. “It showed me that the players are understanding our team motto: Together as one, we are stronger.”
Cali Anderson, Olivia Tom, Brenna Sunderman, Kyra Wallace, and Heidi Robertson were recognized with tournament outstanding player awards. Clarke was the team’s most consistent scorer averaging 14 points per game. Kiera Moroziuk was a feisty defender causing many turnovers and Sunderman proved her versatility playing in different roles.
While the Express went 4-0, the Dragons were 3-1, Keremeos was 2-2, Sahali 1-3 and Fulton 0-4.
The Express are in Princeton for a tournament that concludes today before taking a break until the new year.
“The Classic tournament and the Princeton tournament will add to our game experience,” said Aubin. “The girls have played very little organized basketball before this year. Giving them a lot of opportunity to experience real game situations is critical as we go on in the season pursuing our team goals.”