The Penticton Secondary School Lakers junior girls basketball team, coached by Lesley Lacroix (front row, second from right), finished in eighth place at the provincial championship held in Langley on the weekend. Submitted photo

Lakers junior basketball team finishes eighth in the province

Penticton Secondary School team at the provincial junior girls basketball championship

It wasn’t the exact way the Penticton Secondary School Lakers junior girls basketball team wanted to the end of the season, but it was sweet nonetheless.

The Lakers earned a trip to the provincial championship, held at the Langley Events Centre, by winning their first pennant since 2005 but tough games against the top teams in the province saw them exit in eighth place. Still the Lakers held their heads high.

“It was a wonderful end to an amazing season with these kids,” said Lakers coach Lesley Lacroix. “We faced Okanagan Valley rivals, KSS Owls, in the game for seventh and eighth place. Both teams showed great spirit and enthusiasm in their last game of the season.”

In the end, the Lakers were defeated by the Owls 44-34. Top scorers for the Lakers were Sophie Brydon with 14 points and Jaden Yamamoto with 10 points.

The Lakers first match of the provincials, pitted them against Vancouver Island’s number one seed — Pacific Christian Academy.

“Their 1-2-2 half court zone gave us plenty of trouble as they focused on preventing any inside play into Jaden Yamamoto. We had to alter our offensive game plan by throwing in a full court press to try to create havoc and steals so we could score in transition rather than in a half court offensive set,” said Lacroix.

Brydon had a strong game but ended up on the bench in the second quarter after getting her second foul. Rebekah Young came in and played well on both ends of the court, including hitting an important shot from three-point range.

Kayla Haukaas was given the task of focusing on Pacific Christian’s point guard Adaiah Tupas-Singh. A role she took seriously as she limited the point guard to just six points in the second half. Haukaas also chipped in offensively, scoring a three-point shot and finishing with seven points.

Lacroix said Yamamoto battled hard on the inside as she was double and triple teams, but still managed scoring 13 points. Kate Glibbery was strong on the boards and added six points in the win. Brydon had nine points.

Player of the game Iannnone, was creating mayhem for the Pacific Christian offence and contributed to the score for the Lakers hitting three from the three-point line. The Lakers finished with a 49-44 win.

The Lakers then lost their chance to play for the provincial title in a tough game against Fraser Heights Firehawks, who went on to win the junior girls championship.

Lacroix said the first quarter was a battle against the Surrey team but shots from the three-point area from Julia Devito and Iannone kept the game close for the first eight minutes. With the score knotted at 9-9, Fraser Heights pulled ahead by five — leading 24-19 at the half-time.

“Kayla Haukaas once again shut down their lead scorer, point guard Neelam Rai, holding her to just four points in the first three quarters of the game. But they found other players to put the ball in the hoop and we didn’t counter well offensively, falling behind by 10,” said Lacroix.

Rai turned up the heat in the fourth quarter, breaking the Lakers desperation press, and leading Fraser Heights to a 55-43 win.

Lakers player Yamamoto was struggling to get her offensive game started, scoring just one field goal in the game, but managed to contribute from the foul shot line for 12 points. Iannone finished with points and the player of the game, Brydon, added six points in the loss.

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