Junior guard Jessica Wisotzki was simply unstoppable Saturday night at the LEC, scoring a career high 41 points to lead the No. 1 Walnut Grove Gators to an impressive win over the No. 5 ranked Abbotsford Panthers in the final of the Tsumura Basketball Invitational. Wisotzki, who also scored 32 points in the Gator’s semi-final win over Semiahmoo, was named tournament MVP.
The final between two provincial powerhouses was a back and forth affair that saw several lead changes, and featured a playoff type atmosphere. Grade 11 guard Tavia Rowell got the Gators off to a strong start, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the 1st quarter, that helped Walnut Grove to a 20-15 lead after the opening 10 minutes. Abby guard Marin Lenz led the Panthers back, with some exceptional shooting. She scored 15 of her team high 30 points in the first half, but the Panthers still trailed by 3 (38-35) at the half. The teams traded leads for most of the second half, but it was ultimately the play of Wisotzki down the stretch that made the difference for Walnut Grove. Wisotzki, who’s made major strides in her game through her work with the VK basketball club, scored from inside and out, notching 14 points in the final frame to seal the victory. After the final Gators’ head coach Darren Rowell said he wasn’t surprised with Wisotzki’s wizardry over the weekend, “She’s been terrific all season, so I’m not all that surprised, she’s been scoring in the 30’s all the time, she has incredible hands, incredible sense for the game and just a great touch around the basket, she doesn’t miss a whole lot. Anything you throw in her direction she catches and scores, so she’s really, really come on.”
Despite the setback, Abbotsford head coach Prentice Lenz was happy with his team’s performance in the final, “we played a good game, they just made the big baskets in the 4th quarter when they needed to. But this was a great tournament, I’m glad we got to play these big games early in the season, that it was really good to see what we need to work on moving forward this season.”
Earlier in the evening the upstart Semiahmoo Totems served notice that they are a team to keep an eye on as the season moves forward, with a 78 – 74 win over the Riverside Rapids. With a roster that features six players in grade 9, the Totems showed poise beyond their years in the entertaining win. Forward Izzy Forsythe was dominant in the paint, and led the way for the Totems with 27 points. Semiahmoo head coach Allison Mcneil was excited with the growth her young team showed over the weekend, “I really like how our kids played with poise, really throughout the whole tournament. They’re very young, but they’re tough, they’re resilient, they’ve got a lot of resolve, and the work hard, so you can’t really complain.” The Rapids were led by smooth shooting grade 11 guard Sammy Shields, who connected on seven 3-pointers, and finished with 26 points in the loss.