Walnut Grove vs Abby Senior
The first semifinal of the day, the Walnut Grove Gators and the Abbotsford Senior Panthers battled for a place in the final. It was by far the closest game either team had played thus far, but it was Walnut Grove making a big push in the fourth quarter to win 88-71.
Walnut Grove and Abbotsford played tight early on, as both team traded baskets to keep it close. But two straight threes from Sophia Wisotski and a layup off a steal from Tavia Rowell opened it up for the Gators and gave them a nine point lead after one. Rowel finished with 22 points in the first half alone.
In the second quarter, Walnut Grove seemed to take a commanding lead, winning by as much as 18 at one point courtesy of a Jessica Wisotski three. But SFU commit Sienna Lenz took charge of the comeback for Abbotsford, scoring nine straight points to make it 49-40 after the first half of play.
The third belonged to Abbotsford Senior. Making the most of their speed on transition, they got the game to within five at the halfway mark, and then tied it up at 59 via a pull up two from Sienna Lenz. Abbotsford Senior looked like they were going to push Walnut Grove right to the edge.
Then, Natalie Rathler took over in the fourth quarter. Getting in foul trouble in the second half and sitting on four fouls, she sat out most of the third quarter. Coming in early in the fourth, she used her size advantage inside to great effectiveness. She had numerous putbacks, her midrange game was on point, and she hit a couple of big free throws as well.
“She played with such poise having four fouls I couldn’t believe it” said Walnut Grove head coach Darren Rowell on Rathler’s performance. “She’s such a smart leader out there, and can control herself so well. We had to gamble because without her we wouldn’t be able to defend and score.”
Despite winning by 16, it really was a hard fought victory for the Gators, the first one they’ve had all tournament.
Tavia Rowell had a triple double, finishing with 31 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds. Rathler had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Jessica Wisotski had 23 points. For Abbotsford Senior, Sienna and Marin Lenz and 25 & 22 points respectively.
Kelowna vs Semiahmoo
Kelowna and Semiahmoo played for the right to be in the final on Friday. Despite the young talent that Semiahmoo had at their disposal, it was Kelowna who ran away with this game 81-59.
Kelowna came out to a red hot start, perhaps showing the advantage of experience they have over Semiahmoo. They would end the first quarter on a 15-3 run, capped off by a Taya Hanson three right at the buzzer.
Although Semiahmoo started the second off well with a Faith Dut three point play, Kelowna kept on applying the pressure. They got the lead to 16 after Taya Hanson found Kasey Patchell for three, then ended the second quarter like the first with a buzzer beating three.
The second half saw Kelowna have a 27 point lead before Taya Hanson came out for a brief break. Although Raushan Bindra and Izzy Forsyth kept battling in the fourth, the lead that the Owls had built up proved too much in the end.
Taya Hanson and Kennedy Dickie both finished with 20 point double doubles. Jaeli Ibbertson also had 23 points for Kelowna. Meanwhile, Izzy Forsyth had 21 points for Semiahmoo, while centre Faith Dut grabbed 17 rebounds.
“It seems like when you give her an assignment, it brings out the most in her” said head coach Darren Seminiuk on Dickie’s game. “She was just a beast in the first half, and it helped our energy for our team.”
Kelowna will now face Walnut Grove in the AAA final tomorrow at 5:00 pm. Kelowna has failed to beat Walnut Grove in the two times they have played each other this season.