As Derek Wolf sank the last of his two free throw shots, he sent the strong Pen High Lakers contingent in the stands into a frenzy as the senior boys basketball team defeated the North Kamloops Saints 74-68.
It was a do or die game for both in the Okanagan AAA Valley championship that started Thursday at Pen High.
The turnaround for the Lakers began when Travis Petersen, who finished with 12 points, finally drained a shot from three-point land that gave them a temporary 65-64 lead. That was with less than three minutes remaining. On two separate visits to the line, Wolf drained all four shots. Mitch Jacobsen, who was getting himself on the line also, struggled a few times then began sinking shots when forcing fouls.
During the dying minutes of the final quarter, the Lakers also started making better decisions with the ball and received strong play by Jordan Findlay, collecting defensive rebounds. On the offence, when Wolf (21 points) wasn’t scoring himself, he found Jacobsen for the easy basket in the paint as the six-foot-eight power forward was dominant below the basket and finished with 28 points.
“We stayed poised and made the smart plays,” said Wolf, who on one drive, fooled a Saints player into thinking he was going for the layup then finding Jacobsen in a backdoor play allowing the six-foot-eight forward for the easy basket.
It was an impressive performance put on by both Grade 12 players, who utilized pick and roll plays to expose the Saints’ defence. Wolf credited those plays to getting the team going. He also praised his giant teammate.
“He has a lot of heart,” said Wolf of Jacobsen, who is playing with an injured ankle.
Before the Lakers turnaround, it looked as though the key moment that would hurt the Lakers was midway through the quarter. The Lakers had tied the score at 55, then hit a point drought in which three-point shots were missed and other shooting attempts failed. Meanwhile, they had kept the Saints from scoring.
Despite the several failed attempts, Lakers coach Dustin Hyde was not upset by the efforts and said he wants Petersen to go for the three-point shots.
During a timeout, Hyde insisted he didn’t say too much to get his players to change the momentum.
“I told them to be more patient with the ball,” he said. “Guys were resilient.”
Jacobsen said the team showed heart in getting the win and was impressed with how he and Wolf were able to take charge.
“It’s great for team confidence,” said Jacobsen. “We have more success as a team when we play as a team. Sometimes we are guilty of trying to be one-man shows and I’m also guilty of that.”
Today, the Lakers will face the South Kamloops Titans at 6 p.m. The winner advances to the championship game on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. If the Lakers lose, they will play for third/fourth at 6 p.m.