Oh, what a wonderful fun-filled Friday it has been. Who would have thought that one of the 2A Semi Final games was going to OT? Sheesh!
If you somehow missed any of the amazing action out of the LEC, don't sweat it. We've got all the ups and downs from each game below.
St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints vs South Kamloops Titans
With a hop and a skip over to the Centre Court, the first game of the 2A Semis featured St. Thomas Aquinas “fighting” against South Kamloops. As the crowds settled in to watch the pregame show, the girls stepped on to the court for what would be a slow battle to start. The Saints went on a short and sweet 5-0 run, until the Titans loaded up their secret weapon in Maddy Gobeil.
Despite Saints staggering size in posts Jessica Clarke and Gemma Cutler, the team struggled offensively in the first quarter. Titans led 20-5 after 10 minutes. The second half saw a bit of improvement by STA, but Titans double-digit numbers kept on climbing to keep them up 35-21.
Saints made a slight comeback in the final half, giving the audience a show with some fancy footwork in the paint. They played with gritty hearts to take the score to within just 6 points (thanks to a wet three off the hands of Clarke late in the fourth). Gobeil sunk two more to stretch their lead, while STA were unable to find the basket in their next two possessions. Giving it everything they possibly could, Cutler and Clarke brought it back down on STA’s side to grab 4 points and take the score to within just four of SKSS.
One minute remained in the game as Titans led 59-55.
Possession teetered between the two teams as the seconds diminished. Fighting Saints’ Olivia Thorpe hit a crucial 3 with just fifteen seconds remaining, but it would not be enough for St. Thomas Aquinas.
In the end, the South Kamloops Titans were victorious and for the second year in a row will be heading to the Provincial Championship Finals.
Head Coach Del Komarniski had this to say about the game:
“We knew we had to slow down their inside game, that was our focus. I thought we did a good job of that, then I thought their guards picked it up and kind of made us change how we were playing them from the first half.”
Coach K says it hasn’t really sunk in yet that they’re headed to the Provincial Championship Finals for the second year in a row.
“We’re not resting yet—we’re still trying to finish this one out and hopefully have a good outcome tomorrow.”
Maddy Gobeil was named Player of the Game with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 steals for the Titans.
GW Graham Grizzlies vs Langley Christian Lightning
The crowd was absolutely electric (pun intended) in the second semi final game of the day, which comprised of the Langley Christian Lightning and the GW Graham Grizzlies. Fans from around Langley all flocked to the Events Centre to support the home team Lightning, who despite the hype around the court, were unable to put the first points on the board. In fact, both teams were off to an offensively slow start. Once GW Graham came out to play, though, they led for the entire game up until the fourth quarter…we’ll get to that in a minute.
Height was definitely in the Grizzlies favour as the Tuchscherer Towers were an absolute wrecking ball on both ends of the court. However, Lightning’s little thunderbolt Mackenna Gardner zipped around the two sisters, keeping her team close behind GW Graham on the scoreboard.
At the half, Grizzlies led by 3 points; 27-24.
The third quarter showcased some high quality defensive moves. “Ooo’s” and “ahh’s” echoed throughout the Centre Court as the ball moved from right to left, without many points translating to the board. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Langley Christian truly released their inner beast! They made a climb with a beauty trey off the hands of Gardner near the 7-minute mark to come within just 1 point of GW with 47-46. But Deanna clapped back with a powerful layup to keep the Grizzlies ahead.
With just under two minutes to go, GW led just 56-54. UNTIL Taylor Coxford tied it up with a crucial layup. Grizzlies found themselves on the free throw line, where Deanna sunk 2 to put her team ahead once again. But Gardner lit up the gymnasium after she sunk another of her own. The game teetered on the scoreboard, with Grizzlies grabbing the lead.
After foul trouble, Mackenna Gardner made her way to the FT line and hit 2 to finally give the Lightning the lead. With just two seconds left on the clock, Deanna Tuchscherer dove into the paint and hit a buzzer beater 2-pointer to tie the game at 62. That's right, this epic semi final game was headed into overtime!
Precision was key in the final five minutes of OT; and for Deanna, she handled the pressure (and ball) extremely well for her team. Though Langley Christian played with passion in every pass, they were unable to sink their 3s when they desperately needed to do so. After what can only be described as one of the most intense semi final games this reporter has ever witnessed, the GW Graham Grizzlies clinched their spot in the Championship Finals for a chance to redeem themselves after last year’s loss to the South Kamloops Titans.
Deanna was named Player of the Game with 34 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists. She was nearly speechless after the exhausting, yet victorious game.
“We just had to dig deep in that one. We lost that game in the Fraser Valley final and after that, we just didn’t feel good and did not want to feel that again. So that kind of motivated us through overtime to dig deep and push through.
I think we’ve just got to enjoy this moment more than anything. We’re back in the [Championship Finals]; it’s where we want to be and what we’ve worked so hard for.”
Deanna and her GW Graham Grizzlies take on the South Kamloops Titans in the Championship Finals on Saturday, March 2nd at 3:00pm in the Centre Court of the Langley Events Centre.
The highlights were straight fire, by the way. Be sure to watch the video below made by our senior videographer and editor, Chris Evans:
That's it, that's all for Semi Final Friday! Stay tuned for your recap of Redemption Saturday--it's bound to be outrageous, I'm sure.
Written by: Crystal Scuor