The Oak Bay Breakers want to be around to win the game that matters most, and that’s the final of the B.C. senior girls Triple A basketball championships, set for March 7 at the Langley Events Centre.
But coming in with the No. 2 ranking and being able to beat the No. 1 ranked Brookswood Bobcats on the same floor in the final of Sunday’s Tsumura Basketball Invitational wasn’t too shabby.
With forward Lauren Yearwood putting in the tough minutes early in the paint and having it parlay into a dominating, game-high 26-point performance, Victoria’s Breakers were surprising 61-44 winners over Langley’s Bobcats in the first rematch since last season’s B.C. Triple A final clash, won by the mainlanders.
"At the end of the day, it’s early in the season," began Oak Bay head coach Rob Kinnear. "Right now we don’t care so much that we win, but we care how we play and I thought the girls played very well against a very good team."
The Breakers never stopped attacking. And when Brookswood found its ability to defend in the front court compromised by foul trouble to forward Tayla Jackson and guard/forward Amanda Boettcher, they were able to turn what was a 12-point firsthalf deficit into a dominant 17-point win.
What is clear about Oak Bay is that when Yearwood and point guard Morgan Roskelley are on their game, they are tough to beat. But when they get great performances from the rest of the lineup, they can accomplish their ultimate goal.
On Sunday, one of the players who made a real difference with her effort and versatility was tournament MVP Sophie de Goede, the forward who scored nine of her 11 points in the second half.
"She did exactly what we asked the whole team to do today," said Kinnear. "It’s early season, so you can’t guarantee execution but you can guarantee that you will work hard. And she was our spark. We all brought it today, but she was the catalyst." It didn’t start that way.
Oak Bay didn’t score for the first 4:45 of the game, and found itself trailing by as many as 12 points (23-14) in the second quarter. But once they found a way to attack the shorthanded Bobcats inside, the Breakers were off to the races, building their lead to as many as 20 points (57-37) in the fourth quarter.
Brookswood front court players Amanda Boettcher and Tayla Jackson each got into foul trouble, and if the Bobcats have an Achilles’ Heel, it’s depth down low.
Aislinn Konig led Brookswood with 25 points, while Louise Forsyth had 15. That’s 40 of Brookswood’s 44 total points.
In the boys’ final, the Kelowna Owls improved to 7-0 on the season, winning their second tournament in as many weeks with a 95-73 victory over Surrey’s Tamanawis Wildcats.
It was the Lower Mainland’s first glimpse at the Owls’ 6-foot-8 Grade 10 forward Grant Shephard as a senior varsity player, and he did not disappoint, being selected tournament MVP on the heels of a gamehigh 27-point performance. Tamanawis, a Final Four team from a season ago, took a pair of runs at Kelowna and forced the Owls to keep their starters on the floor over the latter stages of the contest.
"This is the game that (Shephard) and Rashaun Roulhac really showed up to play," said Owls head coach Harry Parmar of his two forwards.
Roulhac, who had 14 first-half rebounds, also had eight points.
"This is good for us because we need to get better," Parmar. "We want to play with 40 minutes of passion. Out sets are not great and we have a long ways to go."
Owls point guard Matt Lafontaine had 18 points, Nav Sandhu had 17 while Parker Simson had 16 in the win. Tamanawis was led by Miguel Tomley with 19 points, while Aminder Basra had 18.
Howard Tsumura is a reporter with the Vancouver Province. For more Vancouver Province stories, click here.