The Brookswood Bobcats made a strong push but couldn’t quite manage to topple the powerhouse South Kamloops Titans in the title game of the B.C. senior girls Triple A basketball championship.
The defending champion Titans led 27-19 at the half and held off the Bobcats during a thrilling second stanza to win 59-49 Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
Saturday’s game matched B.C.’s top-ranked Triple A team, the Titans, against the second-ranked Bobcats.
“Brookswood played real tough today,” Titans head coach Ken Olynyk said. “I think [Brookswood co-coach] Neil [Brown] had a great game plan and we were fortunate: we made some shots when it counted.”
Olynyk believes the Titans, who defeated York House in the 2012 championship game, will make a return trip to the LEC next March as they go for a three-peat.
“This team will be back next year, I think,” he said. “We have a real good core coming back. We’ll wait and see. I think this one was special because we had an expectation that we’d win and Brookswood didn’t have anything to lose.”
Brown said the ’Cats battled hard against a tough South Kamloops team.
“Our kids are young, small… I thought we played well,” he said.
The fiery Brookswood bench boss wished the Bobcats would have had some calls in their favour.
“We needed favourable refereeing and we didn’t get it,” he said. “We needed them to call some fouls on their big kids and they didn’t. We thought there were plenty of chances to call fouls and they chose not to, but we can’t complain.”
Brown singled out Grade 12 guard Sydney Williams for her competitiveness. Williams led the Bobcats with 17 points in her final high school game.
“Syd Williams, she’s one of my favourite kids,” he said. “She just keeps trying hard physically – never stops. She’s an emotional leader for us. She doesn’t care how big someone is, she just fights. I think the rest of our kids can learn a lot from playing with Syd for a year, and for some two years, too.”
Williams was named to the tournament first all-star team. Her teammate Tayla Jackson earned a second all-star nod.
Bobcats 63, Maple Ridge Ramblers 49
There would be no miracle comeback, no mammoth upset when the Ramblers and Bobcats renewed acquaintances Friday on the LEC hard court.
The ’Cats seized the Ramblers by the throat early on and never let go en route to a 63-49 victory.
In the very same gym two weeks earlier, the Ramblers erased a 12-point deficit in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter to stun the heavily favoured Bobcats 73-67 in the Fraser Valley final.
The ’Cats avenged that loss in Friday’s B.C. semifinal.
The Titans defeated the Oak Bay Breakers 58-32 in the other semifinal, held immediately after the Brookswood/Maple Ridge match-up.
In Friday’s first semi, the ’Cats led 21-11 after the first quarter, 37-16 at the half and 50-25 after three quarters, then geared down somewhat during a final quarter in which the Ramblers outscored them 24-13.
The Ramblers had momentum going into the semifinal, coming off the aforementioned Fraser Valley title victory over the ’Cats and having beaten Prince George and Handsworth in their first two games at the provincials.
A tenacious Bobcats squad proved to be too much for them Friday.
Ramblers head coach Don Herman said the Bobcats’ shooters were much more in the zone in the B.C. semifinal compared to the Fraser Valley title game.
“They [the Bobcats] shot the ball better tonight,” Herman said. “[In the Valley final] they didn’t hit those threes early so they lost a bit of confidence, and their two best players were in foul trouble so that helped a little bit, and we shot the ball better.”
Friday was a whole different ball game.
The ’Cats managed to neutralize Ramblers 6’3” star forward Kolbie Orum, who lit them up for 40 points in the Fraser Valley final.
Orum was limited to 13 points.
She was held off the scoresheet during the second quarter and had one basket in the last stanza.
Brookswood guard Jessie Brown recorded a game high 20 points to lead the ’Cats.
Bobcats 72, Argyle Pipers 60
A 12-point win over the Pipers sent the Bobcats to the semifinal.
This marks the ninth time in the last 12 years that a Bobcats team has made it to the final four of the provincial tournament.
“A record that we are very proud of,” Brown said.
The ’Cats recovered nicely from a slow offensive start. They only scored five points in the opening quarter and the game was tied 22-22 at the halftime break.
The game opened up in the second half, with the Bobcats outscoring the Pipers 50-38 over the next two quarters of play.
“We started to hit shots in the second half and played better defence,” Brown said.
Jessie Brown scored 26 points to lead all Bobcats’ scorers.
Williams and Jackson added 13 points each while Lindsay Wand hit double figures in scoring with 11.
Jackson had nine rebounds, Williams collected eight and Jessie Brown had seven boards.
Bobcats 72, Claremont Spartans 51
The Bobcats opened the tournament last Wednesday with a 72-51 win over the Claremont Spartans from Victoria.
Jessie Brown led the ’Cats with 24 points, while Jackson added 18 points. Williams pulled in 11 rebounds.
“I told the team before the game that they did not have to win pretty, just win,” Brown said. “An ugly win was okay. That’s what we did: we won ugly. [It was a] slow, grind-it-out win.”
FINAL BUZZER: Chris Veale is the Bobcats’ co-coach.