LANGLEY — “You know what?” Sarah Mouritzen began. “I am going to cry. She’s 18? She has done all of her work for that shot. For all of the work she put in, she deserves this. When she hit that shot she burst into tears because it meant so much to her. This is awesome.”
If you witnessed it Friday night, you knew exactly what the head coach of Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies was talking about: A made-basket which instantly found its place on the list of the most clutch shots B.C. high school girls basketball championship tournament history.
With 2.7 seconds remaining in regulation, her team trailing 62-60 and every set of eyes in the Langley Event Centre’s Centre Court gymnasium knowing full well who was going to get the ball for one last-ditch attempt to save a season, Deanna Tuchscherer did not disappoint.
She in-bounded the ball in the front court, got it back on the baseline, and from an angle in which her launch point appeared to be behind the actual goal, she released a runner which dropped through net as the game clock expired.
The basket sent the game to overtime tied 62-62, and once there, the Grizzlies seemed to find a new energy, outscoring their Fraser Valley rivals, the Langley Christian Lightning, 12-6 to win 74-68 and advance to today’s 3 p.m. title game at the LEC against the defending champion South Kamloops Titans here at the B.C. Senior Girls Double-A basketball championships.
“We had a similar opportunity last year just before we went to overtime,” remembered Tuchscherer, the 6-foot senior forward of a shot that didn’t fall in the 2018 B.C. title game against South Kamloops. “That one kind of rimmed out. Luckily this one was to get that one back, so now we’re back in the final.”
But not without a knockdown, drag-out battle waged against the Lightning and their Grade 11 leader, guard Makenna Gardner, who also got some timely help from a rising Grade 9.
For almost everything that Tuchscherer and her talented Grade 9 sister Julia Tuchscherer gave the Grizzlies, Gardner was right there to take it back for her Lightning.
From the midway mark of that fourth quarter, that was the tenor of the game.
Tuchscherer knocked down a three with 4:52 to give the Grizzlies a 56-51 lead.
Gardner drew LCS to within two points at 56-54 when she hit one of her own with 2:53 remaining.
Then the Lightning’s own Grade 9 hustle-play specialist Taelor Coxford went to work, converting her own offensive rebound with 1:38 left to tie it at 56-56.
Tuchscherer hit a pair of free throws. Gardner drove for a lay-in.
Tuchscherer put on the moves in the post for a lay-in. Coxford grabbed another offensive rebound and converted it at the rim.
Game tied: 60-60 with 40 seconds left.
Then, with 2.3 seconds left, Gardner looked to have potentially won the game for her team when she got fouled, and hit both free throws for a 62-60 LCS lead.
Yet after Tuchscherer sunk the buzzer-beating runner, the Lightning were not the same in overtime.
Gardner, who finished with 26 points, scored all six of her teams points in the extra session.
Tuchscherer, by contrast, didn’t have to do it all.
Her sister Julia opened the scoring in the extra session and went on to score 7 of her team-high 26 in overtime. She also grabbed 13 rebounds.
Deanna Tuchscherer, who finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, had a bucket off a baseline drive. Kenndey Hall and Sydney Owens each hit a pair of free throws in the extra frame.
Hailey Van Roekel had 17 points for the Lightning.
And of course, the win sets up a rematch of last season’s title game against South Kamloops.
Interestingly enough for the game’s two primary stars, each will finish playing against each other, then join one another on the university level next season.
Reigning MVP Maddy Gobeil of the Titans and Tuchscherer will both join Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Cascades and be coached by Deanna’s dad Al Tuchscherer.
“Deanna and Maddy have been talking about it,” smiled Mourtizen, of the fact that they could potentially have met each other in the final before becoming Cascades. “Now we have it. We are ready to go to battle. All we wanted was a chance to get back there, and ho-lee… did we get that chance.”
Deanna Tuchscherer agreed.
“We just wanted to get back to that final game, and this has been like a five-year journey for me and Sarah,” she said of her coach. “We just have one more thing to do, and that’s win a championship.”
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