The host Penticton Secondary School Lakers were riding an emotional roller coaster on the weekend, in the end having to settle for second place in the junior girls basketball provincial qualifying tournament.
After a super-charged victory over arch rival Summerland Rockets earlier in the day Saturday, the Lakers fell to the Kelowna Secondary Owls by a 58-38 margin in the championship match.
“I don’t want to blame anything but certainly that (win over Summerland) emotionally took a lot out of us and so everyone was probably on a super big high until an hour after that game and then you crash down, so possibly it had an impact,” said Lakers coach Leslie Lacroix. “But that’s something we’re going to have to learn to deal with because every weekend now is going to be a competitive tournament and you’ve got to be able to put together three good games in a row.”
The runner-up finish did move the team from 15th in the provincial rankings to 11th and there will still be two more chances to clinch a berth in the B.C. championships.
That includes another qualifying tournament this weekend at Earl Marriott in Surrey and then the Valley finals.
With the win the Owls automatically qualify for the provincials.
The biggest thorn in the Pen High side in the final was Kelowna point guard Japleen Chahal.
“She had really had the hot hands, she was hitting threes from a whole bunch of places and we couldn’t match, we weren’t shooting well,” said Lacroix. “We had hands in her face and she was hitting shots, we had screens and she was hitting shots. It was a bit disappointing because we beat them before Christmas but they were the better team, they’ve really improved.”
Chahal finished with 16 points and teammate Katrina Fink tallied 17 in the win.
Kate Glibbery and Jaden Yamamoto, who was sick in the final and used only sparingly, lead the Lakers with 10 each with Sophie Brydon adding nine.
Maria Iannone and and Brydon were the Penticton tournament all stars.
The Lakers got some sweet revenger earlier in the day when they knocked off Rockets 31-23 to advance to the finals.
The Lakers had lost to Summerland in the final game of a tournament in Kelowna in December.
It’s a big rivalry,” said Lakers coach Lacroix after the game. “These teams have been competing against each other in close, close games since they’ve been in grade 7 and grade 8 and that just brings out out a real competitive nature on both sides. Big bodies get banging in the key and it’s fun to watch.
“The big improvement defensively was the big change around this time. Kate Glibbery played amazingly on defence and Maria Iannone brought her defensive game and her offensive game and we just managed to shut down that penetrating scoring threat.”
Penticton had a slim 14-12 lead at the half and piled in another 13 points in the third quarter while giving up just eight.
Iannone had five points for the winners. The Lakers leading scorer was Brydon who finished with 10.
Lexi Corday was the Rockets top point getter with 10 as well.
“I think we handled it (physical play) good,” said Iannone. “I think at the end we knew they really wanted it and that we knew that we had to push harder if we wanted to win. We never gave up and kept trying.”