Bballnationals: Championship Monday

8:15am Games

VK vs VK

VK², yet again!

After a tough loss to VK U13 during Sunday’s final round robin games, the VK U12 girls are hoping for redemption in the playoffs.

The younger squad grabbed the first points for the game, but the U13s were quick to put 6 points of their own on the board. They continued to find the hoop and eventually took a 14-point lead, with a halftime score of 30-16.

VK U12s were relentless in the next half, giving it their absolute all on either side of the court. Despite a few nice layups and boards, it wouldn’t be enough to come back from a near 20-point deficit.

In the end, the VK U13s beat the mini VK girls by a final score of 55-31.

Player of the game Alexis Hart credits her teammates for communicating and passing the ball well in today’s game. She says it was pretty cool to compete against another VK team this far into the tournament.

“It’s cool to be a part of something like a family kind of thing for basketball--as a family, we feel really close to each other so it’s exciting to go through it with each other.”

The VK U13s advance to the division finals happening at 12:00pm in the North Court.

Big Country vs Vic-City Swish

Big Country and Vic-City exchanged turnovers to start this one, as neither team could get their offence going. Vic-City was at one point leading by six, but a 12-6 run from Big Country got the game tied at the half. The team from Ontario did well later in the half getting around Vic-City’s full court press.

It was tied 32-32 late before Big Country took a five point lead. Vic-City were not done there, getting two quick buckets in transition to get within three, but that is unfortunately as close as they would come. Big Country took it 44-41 and advance to the U13 final.

“We’re really excited to go to the finals” said Big Country’s Kara Lowell. “This is our second year in the tournament. Last year we did pretty well and we’re looking forward to bringing home gold.

9:20am Games

VK U15 vs VK U14 Gardner

It was Clash of the VKs! With VK Gardner—who are U14s, might I add—set to take on a tough group of VK U15s, it was bound to be a game to remember.

VK Gardner hit the board first with a 3-0 start; the teams went back-and-forth in points, with Gardner’s squad taking a slight lead over the U15s before they bounced ahead by 6 with just 7 minutes to go.

The remaining minutes featured an intense fury of girls running up, down, and sidewalks on the court. VK Gardner was relentless in the paint and thanks to a crucial trey from Fania Taylor late in the half, the girls kept it to within just 2 points. Paul Langford’s squad kicked it into gear and were able to leap ahead on the scoreboard.

Heading into the second, the U15s led 38-30.

Gardner’s girls started the final half with a fast FG, but the U15s were not ready to fold under pressure. They took a monstrous 20-point lead over Gardner, who despite trailing their fellow VKs, always stayed positive both on-and-off the bench.

Though Gardner fell on the scoreboard, you would have never known from the countless smiles and laughs over on their end of the court.

In the end, the VK U15s defeated their ‘family’ team, VK Gardner.

Player of the Game Marissa Rodde says the team effort was “selfless” and thinks that they all passed the ball well while coming together as one at the right time.

“It shows a lot for VK as a club; we all work together and even after winning or losing, we’re all still friends in the end.”

VK U14 Carkner vs LSA Red

With a place in the finals on the line, you knew this one was going to be intense. Both teams were trying to gage each other early on, but near the end of the first half VK began to impose their will. A 14-7 run saw them take a seven lead heading into the break.

The second half saw VK extend their lead even further, playing great defence down low and not allowing LSA to drive to the hoop without getting swarmed. LSA only managed to score 16 points in the half, an example of the tenacious defence they exuded. VK took this one 56-36 and moves on to play VK Gardner in the final, a team they are very familiar with.

“We had about two practices with them” said VK Carkner’s Karin Khuong on how familiar her team is with the other VK team. “I say it’s good competition. They’re strong and big so it will be hard for us, but I think we can do it.”

10:40am Games

VK U17 vs UBCO Jr Heat U17

VK vs the Jr Heat was always the bound to be a super competitive game — the two teams had played a double overtime thriller earlier in the season. The Jr Heat took an early two point lead, but VK answered right back with a Talia Sireni fade away baseline jumper and a Jessica Wisotski layup. Two straight threes from Grace Killins were the highlights of a run that helped give her team a 36-24 lead heading into the second half.

The Jr Heat turned up the temperature to over 500 degrees, tying it up at 47 courtesy of some great three point shooting and getting to the line often. They then took the lead, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

But then, another twist in the road. Five straight points from Grace Killens VK gave her team the lead back, and the two teams traded buckets for the next few minutes. Two clutch free throws from Jessica Parker made it a four point game and eventually win it, 68-62.

“We run the floor really well, and so do [the Jr Heat] said VK’s Talia Sireni, who had 10 points. “One thing they do really well is rebounds, so we really focused on getting offensive boards and defensively getting rebounds as well. They got a lead in the 2nd half but we just composed ourselves and kept going.”

VK moves on to play VK U16 in the U17 competitive final at 3 pm.

VK U16 vs CBA Cobra U16

The VK U16s were on fire as soon as the ball was tipped, taking an early 10-2 lead in the first—a lead that would prove to be too steep for the Cobras to slither ahead of.

With a slight lull in points thanks to a defensively sound game from both sides, the score at the half was only 36-25 for the VK squad.

In an ambitious second half, CBA pressed on D to sway things back in their direction--putting up a beauty 3 in an attempt to close the point-gap. With each layup from VK, CBA rallied to catch up. However, VK went full warrior mode with flawless ball handling and communication. They kept a steady lead over the Cobras, finishing the game off with a final score of 67-49.

VKs Marin Lenz played the game of her life with an amazing 36 points for her team. She had this to say afterwards:

“As a team, we stepped it up--just pushing the ball, running it. The team played great together and we hit shots when we needed it.”

It’s looking as though the U16s will take on the VK U17 squad, which Lenz says should be a competitive, yet fun matchup.

Bballnationals U17 Finals take place on the North Court at 3:00pm.

12:00pm Games

U13 Competitive Final - Big Country Basketball vs VK U13

Like in any final, both teams played with a whole lot of intensity and heart in the opening minutes. Big Country Basketball kicked off the scoring with a 5-0 run; which VK was able to curb with a few points of their own. Though Big Country took the lead momentarily, the VK girls made it known they came to play. They took the lead 11-9 over BCB.

But this little squad from Ontario was relentless in the paint; they defended well and took the lead over VK. After an intense battle in the last two minutes of the first, the two teams were equal on the scoreboard at 20 a piece. Big Country was seeing cherry red, just like their jerseys, and went on a 6-0 run to close out the first with a 26-20 lead over VK.

The VK U13s put up the first set of points to start the second and really dominated defensively, allowing only 4 points to their 24 within 6 minutes of play.

VK ripped it up for the duration of the half, not allowing much action out of Big Country; with five minutes remaining, VK led 50-32.

In a hard-fought game between Big Country Basketball and VK Basketball U13, the VK squad ultimately was crowned the victor with a strong finish of 53-44 over BCB.

# 21 Marina Radocaj was named MVP in her division following the exciting win.

“It’s an amazing experience to win this with my whole team,” she said. “I feel so happy--I was expecting to win this national championship, I wanted to see who would get the MVP and knowing it was me was amazing to find out.”

# 22 Caitlin Kippin scored 14 points for her team and was named Player of the Game.

“I thought our pressing was really good; we forced them to one side,” she said.

Congrats to both teams and a huge shout out to our second place winner, Big Country Basketball, too!

U15 Intermediate Final - Edmonton Grads vs Stormers U15

The Edmonton Grads and Stormers played to a stalemate late in the first half, as it was tied at 22 with four minutes to go. The Stormers were able to come out on top 32-26 at the half on the backs on some solid second chance points.

In the second half, the Stormers shot the lights out. They hit two big threes early on to extend their lead, and then played great defence. They limited the Grads to just two points over the first five minutes, and just 10 over a 10 minute period. As the clock ticked down, the Stormers ran onto the court in celebration — the final score was 63-47.

The Stormers Jessica Orr said it best:

“We just played really well as a team.”

1:20pm Games

U15 Competitive Final - VK U15 vs VK Carkner

VK U15 first to score, going on a little 4-0 run to start this VK squared matchup, yet again. But Carkner’s VK U14 showed us their worth early on, going on a solid 10-0 run to follow.

The remaining minutes of the opening half were completely controlled by VK Carkner. With precise passing and huge stops on defense, they kept the lead over the U15s up until just under the two-minute warning where Sophia Wisotzki boosted her team ahead with a vital three. Heading into the second, VK U15 led 25-24 over Carkner.

VK U14 hit the hoops first with another 4-0 run to open the half. Almost instantaneously the U15s went into beast mode to pull ahead. In the minutes to follow, the U15s scored 13 points while Carkner’s squad put up 12. This match easily turned into the closest game of the day, with VK Carkner trailing by just 2 points with just under 10 minutes to go.

Nadine Wu splashed in a nice 3 to give her team a slight advantage on the board. Foul trouble for VK Carkner allowed the 15s to add a couple more points to their lead, which also included another wet.

With only five minutes left in the U15 Finals, VK U15 led by a solid 13 points.

Despite an unreal performance by VK Carkner, the VK U15s showed up for the second half and locked in a championship win with a final score of 65-50.

Grace Elliot was named MVP of the tournament and had this to say following after clinching the gold medal trophy:

“It feels great. We went a long way and I’m just so happy for us.”

She says it’s always fun to compete against another VK team.

U17 Intermediate Final - Calgary Storm vs Manitoba Magic

Two evenly matched teams in the Calgary Storm and the Manitoba Magic played each other for the chance to call themselves the U17 Intermediate champs. It was 7-6 five minutes in, and boh teams for most of the half couldn’t seem to put the ball in the hoop. The Storm were especially having trouble with the Magic’s full court press, but broke through near the end of the first half and led.

After a long delay a few minutes into the second half, both teams gave it their all the rest of the way. The Storm’s Sirache Ubaldo and 4 did a great job handling the Magic’s full court press, and that opened up easy buckets for the rest of her teammates down the floor. A late Magic run didn’t produce any magical moment for the team from Manitoba, and the final score was 59-45 for the Storm.

Sirache Ubaldo had 13 points for Calgary, nine of which were from the line.

3:00pm Game

U17 Competitive Final - VK U16 vs VK U17

VK vs VK — it was a common theme on Championship Monday. Luckily, this one was a great game as VK Black took on VK Red team with a title on the line. The first half was played a a frenetic pace, with both teams clearly wanting to show who was the best team in VK.

The end of the first half saw VK Black start to pull away, with Nikki Cabuco finishing a three point play and then Jessica Parker with the pretty fade away jumper. VK Black led after the first half 43-24.

In the second and final half, VK Red raced out on an 11-4 run that got them right back into this contest. That didn’t last for long though, as VK Black pushed the pace and made VK Red pay for every mistake they made. A late run by VK Red made things interesting — the highlight being a bullet pass from Makenna Gardner — but in the end VK Black won 71-58 and took home the U17 championship at bballnationals.

Tournament MVP Nikki Cabuco described the unique feeling of playing in a championship game against familiar faces.

“Despite that we know all the plays, you have to do it perfect to get those open shots” she explained. “With those other girls, we were together last year and we won it too. It’s great being back to back champs.”

Cabuco had 14 points in the win. Marin Lenz had 20 points for VK Red. Congrats to both teams and to everyone who participated in bballnationals.

Written by: Nick Bondi and Crystal Scuor

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