LANGLEY — Surrey’s Panorama Ridge Thunder had a sneaky feeling that bringing an ultra-aggressive mindset and leading with their physicality would help them sweeten the aftertaste of an ugly batch of numbers and help them snap a losing streak against their foes.
That was the scenario which unfolded on cue Thursday, as the Thunder advanced to Friday’s Final Four at the 2017 Telus B.C. senior girls Triple A basketball championships at the Langley Events Centre following an 85-70 win over Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators.
“The last time we played them, we had 26 turnovers at the half, and then another 10 in the second half, and we were 11-of-23 from the line,” said Thunder head coach John Sowerby. “Tonight? Totally different story.”
Indeed, Panorama Ridge, after losing three straight games to the young-and-talented Gators this season, ended the streak by committing just 17 turnovers and going 10-of-15 from the stripe, led by its transcendent talent, senior forward Savannah Dhaliwal who poured home 46 points on 18-of-27 shooting.
“That is what we talked about, being physical,” continued Sowerby, whose Thunder now clash with crosstown rival Lord Tweedsmuir in a 3:30 p.m. semifinal on Friday. “It’s something we still need to work on, but we have to be smart with it. Today, Sav had a great game.”
Her 46 were all vital, and from a team standpoint, Panorama Ridge needed to summon everything it had just to try to slow the Gators’ incredibly talented guard Tavia Rowell.
“They played a fantastic game and Tavia still shot the lights out even when we had a game plan for her,” said Dhaliwal, as the Grade 10 Rowell took a physical pounding and still managed to score 29 points for a team without a senior on its roster. “Overall we used our physicality to our advantage.”
The game was a pick ‘em affair for huge portions, with the score tied on seven occasions and the lead changing hands 12 times. The Thunder’s 15-point margin of victory represented its largest lead on the evening.
The win guaranteed that at least one Surrey school would play in the tourney’s highest-tiered final for the first time since Elgin Park won the title back in 2008.
Arsh Gill and Simrat Dosanjh each scored seven points for Panorama Ridge. Jessica Wisotzki scored 18 and grabbed 13 rebounds, Natalie Rathler scored 12 points and had 11 rebounds, and Leah Fortin had a game-high 14 rebounds for the Gators.
“Honestly, I am just so proud of my teammates, that we came out and did it as a unit,” said Dhaliwal. “Words cannot describe the joy of that. They had beaten us three times, but we had the size (advantage) on them and if we came out and played our game, with our toughness, no one was going to stop us.”
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