Video highlights: https://youtu.be/br7HVTOyRPY
THE way South Kamloops head coach Del Komarniski figured there was no pressure on his Titans team.
The Titans were playing in the championship final of the B.C. Secondary School Girls AAA Basketball Championships on Saturday afternoon at Langley Events Centre in front of close to 1,100 fans. Their opponent was Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies, the same squad South Kamloops defeated in the prior year’s championship final.
“I think (winning last year) took a little pressure off of us, we were in a no-lose situation,” he explained. “Great to get to the final and of course we want to win it but were in a position where if we played hard, did well and lost it, we could live with that.”
The Grizzlies came out flying, scoring eight of the first 10 points before the Titans pulled even at 13 after one quarter. The teams traded runs in the second quarter and it was the No. 3 seed G.W. Graham squad taking a two-point lead into the locker room at the half against the tournament’s top seed.
Komarniski was happy with his team’s effort those first 20 minutes, knowing the game was going to be a grind. But with some astute defensive adjustments, the Titans bottled up Grizzlies’ star Deanna Tuchscherer and her younger sister Julia to seize control of the game.
The sisters came into the final averaging a combined 47 points and 30 rebounds per game over the first three rounds but were held to 20 points and 18 rebounds total in the final.
“You can’t give Deanna lot of space, so we tried to take that space away and congest the lane,” Komarniski explained of their defensive adjustments.
“They played outstanding defence and we could not hit from the outside,” summed up Grizzlies coach Sarah Mouritzen. “And we weren’t able to adapt to that … and we let our emotions get to us and then we stopped executing. They executed very well and we just weren’t able to get into our game.”
The Grizzlies shot 10-for-31 from the field in the first half (32.3 per cent) and took the same amount of shots in the second half but hit three fewer (22.6 per cent).
And while the team had struggled in the past with their outside shooting, they were usually able to pick up the slack by relying on their inside game but the Titans eliminated that option with their tough interior defence and a 35-4 rebounding advantage on the defensive end of the floor.
South Kamloops’ Maddy Gobeil shook off a slow first half – she made just one field goal and had eight points – to return to form in the third quarter as she poured in 14 of her game-high 29 points. Named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for a second straight year, Gobeil also had a dozen rebounds, six assists and four steals.
“She brushed off a rough first half. That’s the sign of a good player, when they can hang in there and she had a solid second half and allowed us to pull away,” Komarniski said.
The Titans star was one of four South Kamloops to score in double figures as Olivia Morgan-Cherchas had 14 points and eight rebounds, Fiona Brisco had 11 points and Kendra McDonald had 10 points and 16 rebounds.
Morgan-Cherchas was named the Championship Player of the Game while Deanna Tuchscherer was the Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
In the third-place game, the Langley Christian Lightning topped the St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints 63-42. For full results from the tournament, click here.
First Team All-Stars:
Julia Tuchscherer (G.W. Graham)
Hailey Van Roekel (Langley Christian)
Kelsey Falk (Vernon)
Makenna Gardner (Langley Christian)
Deanna Tuchscherer (G.W. Graham)
Second Team All-Stars:
Chelsea Bradshaw (Seycove)
Jessica Clarke (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Surprise Munie (Britannia)
Olivia Morgan-Cherchas (South Kamloops)
Olivia Thorpe (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Honourable Mentions All-Stars:
Gemma Cutler (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Kendra McDonald (South Kamloops)
Aliza Dueck (G.W. Graham)
Gigi Gaspar (St. Thomas More Collegiate)
Ava Krepp (Langley Christian)
The Westsyde Whundas won the Most Sportsmanlike Team Award and the G.W. Graham Grizzlies won the School Spirit Award.