The Pen High Lakers senior girls basketball team is eyeing an Okanagan Valley championship.
Coach Dustin Hyde said it’s a feasible goal, but a difficult once since the Kelowna Secondary School Owls is very good.
“We will be building towards this all year,” said Hyde, who has been working with his group since the first week of November. “This is the most talented group of girls that I have coached. We have a very strong group, but are lacking in size. Many of our players play ball all year long and are passionate about playing post secondary. I am excited for the season and so are the girls.”
Half of the Lakers roster features Grade 12 players who have played with Hyde since they started high school. He said not
only are they a great group of players, they are very mature, confident and passionate about the sport.
“The 12s have been involved in a number of tight games that have ended in buzzer beaters or have been right down to the wire. They have won many close games, and lost many close games,” he said. “Last year our starting line up was all grade 10 and 11s. This year it is all grade 11 and 12s. This group has talent, experience, and the confidence to compete at a high level.”
The Lakers pride themselves on playing tough defence and making other teams feel uncomfortable because of their in-your-face style. With the group being more athletic than last season, they will continue to press teams that struggle with pressure.
Over the weekend the Lakers were in the Lower Mainland in Coquitlam area playing in the Gleneagle Secondary tournament. Facing some of the best teams in the province, Hyde only wanted to see his team compete.
They opened with a 58-46 win over Gleneagle. Lyndzie Caron had 24 points and 17 boards. Emma Schneider had 14 points and seven boards, and Annick Cole led the defensive end with seven steals. Their second game was a 70-37 defeat to Carson Graham. Carson Graham is ranked eighth in the province. Mattie Phillip had 10 points and five steals. In their third and final game, the Lakers crushed Terry Fox 76-44.
“Definitely our best game of the weekend. We played very well on both ends of the floor and I was very pleased with the effort and outcome of the game,” said Hyde.
Phillip sunk four three-point shots to finish with 19 points and had seven steals. Lyndzie had 16 points, 11 boards, four assists and four steals. Celine Francisco had 14 points and five assists and Emma Schneider had 11 points and seven boards. Caron earned all-star honours.
Lakers senior boys
This season’s squad features stronger Grade 12s. When the Lakers hit the court, they will without a traditional big man, as coach Colin Cook puts it.
“We’re going to be more run and gun,” said Cooke. “Spread the floor. Our bigs can play outside. Our bigs have the ability to dribble the ball and shoot, especially on the outside.”
The Lakers had 26 players battle for 12 roster spots. Cook and assistant coach Andrew Knudsen ended up keeping extra Grade 11s solely to help in practice.
“That hasn’t happened in four years,” said Cooke, of having so many players come for tryouts. “We put together a strong team.”
Cooke has assembled a group that possesses a lot of heart. Every player is coachable and has a good attitude.
The Lakers have been working on pressure breaks and not turning the ball over. Cooke wants his players to push the ball up the floor and play a more uptempo style. One of their goals on offence is to shoot during the first three or last three seconds of the shot clock. The goal for the Lakers this season is to reach the Okanagan Valley finals.