LANGLEY — Last weekend, while getting in little exercise up in Kelowna, Lisa Nickle took a spill and wound up tearing her Achilles.
Not only was it painful, but it was a dose of adversity the head coach of the B.C. junior championship-bound Dr. Knox Falcons surely didn’t need.
On Saturday morning, however, as her team stood side by side to receive their gold medals after edging Victoria’s St. Michaels University School Blue Jags 52-48 in the provincial final, a proud Nickle, with tears streaming down her face, thanked her players for the character they showed through tough times.
“These kids have been with me since they were in Grade 2 and 3,” said Nickle, the former standout with both the Abby Panthers and later the UBC Thunderbirds, who put off surgery to be able to coach her team at the championships. “They have spent countless hours in the gym, and I am mom to all of them, not just my own.
“For them to have this moment for the rest of their lives, and for their coach to come through this,” Nickle said pointing at her air cast and the temporary sleigh she was forced to use in order to navigate around the court, “shows you how resilient they are, and it shows you the character of the families of the kids that I have had the privilege to coach.”
In what might be a first in any provincial high school final for boys or girls, the Falcons won the B.C. title without scoring a basket from the field over the entire fourth quarter.
Dr. Knox went 0-for-12 from the field, yet were saved by their 10-of-13 effort from the free throw line.
“We talk all the time about possession by possession, minute by minute,” said Nickle. “We talk about keeping our composure and getting to the free throw line like we’ve done in our gym in practice all year.”
Ryenn Schutz led the Falcons with 15 points, followed by the 14 points of tourney MVP Reegan Bond and the 10 points of Avery King.
Bond also grabbed 14 rebounds.
Makena Anderson led SMUS with 16 points, while Jojo Tupas-Singh added 12 points and five steals, and Brianne McLeish 10 and six steals.
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