Brookswood's Tavia Jasper has embraced her defensive stopper role with the Bobcats. (Howard Tsumura, Varsity Letters photo)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

Jasper, Bobcats turn up defensive heat to top Owls in Final 4 return

LANGLEY — If the Brookswood Bobcats are going to put themselves into their fifth-straight Telus B.C. senior girls basketball championship final on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre, it’s their role players that will have to help carry them through Final Four Friday.

Led by B.C. girls Player of the Year Louise Forsyth, who scored a game-high 27 points Thursday in a 76-56 quarterfinal win over the Okanagan champion Kelowna Owls, the Bobcats are now tasked with trying to solve an Abbotsford Panthers team in the semifinals, one which beat them in the finals of both the Tsumura Basketball Invitational in December, and late last month at the Fraser Valley championships.

Against the Owls, Forsyth started the game 0-for-8 from the field but finished it 11-for-23, and it goes without saying that she her prowess is the key ingredient in the Langley school’s push for its part of provincial hoops history.

But unlike previous seasons, these ‘Cats are also as much about the blue-collar, role-playing types who like method actors, must live out their roles against an Abbotsford team which boasts so many varied offensive weapons.

And to that end, it will be players like the Grade 11 guard Tavia Jasper who will play essential roles against the likes of Abbotsford’s talented guard group of Sienna Lenz, Marin Lenz and Sydney Fetterly come Friday’s 5:15 p.m. tip-off at the LEC’s Centre Court.

“Sometimes I want to think about offence but it’s not really my role,” Jasper said after Thursday’s win in which she took just one shot from the field and finished with two points off the bench but made life tough for a Kelowna team which managed just five points in the second quarter. “I’m OK with it. I do what the team needs me to do.”

Clearly, that is joining forces with the likes of Grade 10 teammate Janessa Knapp as key stoppers within a program with a long lineage of scorers.

“Tavia is our most committed kid, our bravest kid,” said Bobcats’ head coach Neil Brown after the game’ “If I had five Tavia Jaspers, it would be hard for any team to score 40 points against us because she is just tenacious. Today she took two or three charges, she is diving face-first on the floor.”

From a defensive standpoint, the Bobcats’ key goal was to slow star guard Courtney Donaldson, and they accomplished that by keeping the Owls’ heart-and-soul player to under double-digits and making her shots as tough as possible.

“We wanted to see if the other four (starters) could play,” said Brown.

Alley Corrado and Kennedy Dickie took on the scoring load and totalled 16 and 17 points respectively in the loss while Donaldson had seven.

Jasper has seemingly always got a smile on her face, and to her, it’s the place where her energy starts.

“I feel like if you bring negative energy, you’re play is going to do down,” she says, “and when that happens you will lose.”

The team bought in to that energy, because after trailing Kelowna 14-13 after the first quarter, they turned up the defensive heat en route to a 36-19 halftime lead.

“Skill-wise I knew we matched up to Kelowna, but energy-wise?” stated Jasper, whose defensive play can be infectious. “Courtney does a great job of getting their girls going.”

And so now comes Abbotsford.

Their skill is not in question and with their youth, they have brought great energy to start games.

Ask Brown about that, and he puts a huge emphasis on the ‘Cats on-court communication Friday.

“Girls will talk 24 hours a day, except for that hour-and-a-half that we want them to during the games,” he said.

And so Tavia Jasper, who last season played alongside two excellent defenders in tourney MVP Aislinn Konig and Top Defensive Player Julia Marshall, will play one of the biggest roles in Friday’s game, even if all she does is take one shot.

BOBCATS EXTRA… Post Brooklyn Golt had one of her best game in Bobcats’ colours, picking up the early offensive slack and finishing with 16 points. Jenna Dick added 15 points while Knapp added another 10. Bobcats’ guard Lyric Custodio suffered a knee injury in Wednesday’s opening-round win over Claremont and has been lost for the remainder of the season.

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