Trailing by eight heading into the fourth quarter, the Skaha Lake Sharks bit back to disappoint the host KVR Express 40-38 to claim the South Okanagan Zone Grade 8 championship.
The two Penticton schools battled hard and played physical as to not allow any open chances at the basket. Sharks coach Lorne Lovett said the difference in winning came down to his players being responsible on the court and trusting each other.
“I’m proud,” said Lovett, who has coached the girls on both teams in district soccer. “They understand how to work as a team.”
Missing two players due to broken arms and Brett Needham watching her brother Matt at the Canada Winter Games forced Lovett to change from playing a full court press and it paid off. KVR Express coach Blair Haddrell said he waited too long to make adjustments and felt that cost his team.
“I expected them to come out ultra aggressive in their half court defence, and they did not,” he said.
Haddrell also contributed the loss to their inability to finish from within four feet and Kenzi Haberstock of the Sharks going four-for-four from within 10 feet, to start the game — which he claims she hadn’t done all season and was impressive to see.
“Megan Admunson-Blair was a tough stop for us,” he added. “I needed to guard her with someone quicker and smaller and I never did.”
Lovett, who is proud of his players, said his team never panicked.
To get into the final, the Sharks defeated the Princeton Rebels 43-42, while KVR was victorious over Similkameen Elementary Secondary School Sparks in overtime 35-31.
“It was a great weekend of basketball,” said Haddrell. “I have been involved for six years now and this year is the most competitive I have ever seen. For the semifinals and finals to only be decided by a combined seven points was impressive. I think these playoffs only bode well for the future of South Okanagan basketball.”
Keremeos finished third, followed by Princeton, Holy Cross, SMS, McNicoll and Oliver.