Penticton Secondary School Lakers junior girls basketball coach said her team is playing at their peak as they prepare for the South Zone Championship.
On Thursday the Lakers travelled to Summerland to play their cross-zone rival, the Rockets, on Thursday at 7 p.m. With first place in the league on the line and the right to host the South Zone Championship, Feb. 9 to 11, the Lakers battled to a win 41-37.
The teams headed to the locker room at halftime with the Rockets leading by one point, 20-19.
“We battled it out in the third quarter and managed a two-point lead heading into the fourth. Scoring went back and forth with the Rockets power forward Brinay Burdick hitting a couple of long-range three’s to give the Rockets a temporary lead. Two clutch free-throws by Lakers Kate Glibbery tied the game and sent both teams into at three minute overtime,” said Lakers coach Lesley Lacroix.
The Rockets got into foul trouble and the Lakers capitalized, shooting from the line five times in the overtime. This extended the Lakers lead to four points and ultimately the win. High scorers for the game were Jaden Yamamoto with 14 points, Maria Iannone with 10 points and Glibbery and Sophie Brydon each had six.
Last weekend, the Lakers extended their undefeated season in league play downing the Princess Margaret Mustangs 47-15.
“We had an outstanding effort from the Grade 9 players. Maiya Woods continues to impress us with her improvement and Dylan Capp led all players with rebounds in the game. The defensive play of Jocelyn Hannon and Nicola Thompson gave Maggie a lot of trouble,” said Lacroix.
Lacroix said it had been a struggle for the Lakers to put together three strong games in a row over the season, however things hit a turning point at the Immaculata Sweet 16 tournament in Kelowna last weekend.
In their first game, against Riverbend from Edmonton, the Lakers fought to keep the score close and ended up on the winning side, 38-32.
The Lakers then took on WL Seaton, from Vernon, for the second time this season.
“The first half Seaton managed to keep it close, but a strong scoring performance by Kayla Haukaas extended the lead and we won 58 to 38,” said Lacroix.
The win put the Lakers in the semi final against Valleyview (Kamloops).
“It was a back and forth affair with only a two point lead held by either team at any point in the game. This continued in the second half but they were victorious over us, with a heartbreaking final score of 43-31. Sophie Brydon led our scoring drive with 16 points,” said Lacroix.
Playing for third and fourth positioning, the Lakers faced Duchess Park (Prince George). A team that was coming off a good run having qualified for provincials, winning their own tournament the weekend before.
“We knew we were in tough and once again played a game that saw each team swap a lead of two points through all four quarters,” said Lacroix. “A clutch three-pointer by Maria Iannone clinched the win as we defeated them 50-48. Jaden Yamamoto led all scorers in the game with 19 points.”
Both Iannone and Yamamoto earned first team all-star honours for their outstanding play through the weekend.
The Lakers faced the Oliver Hornets on Jan. 30 dominating them on the court 49-10. Top scorer for the Lakers was Rebekah Young with 18 points and six assists. Jocelyn Hannon had nine points and three assists in the game and Ella Engen chipped in eight points and five boards.