LANGLEY — When the Okanagan Mission Huskies came to Langley in mid-December for the Tsumura Basketball Invitational, they were an untested and relatively unknown entity in the world of B.C. high school girls basketball.
After they beat the Britannia Bruins in the championship final, however, they set in place an identity which has made them one of the most recognizable teams in the province.
And those traits of pressure defence, steals and transition basketball continued to remain the hallmark of their identity Friday, as Kelowna’s Huskies wore down Richmond’s R.A. McMath Wildcats to earn a berth in Saturday’s B.C. Triple A championship final, back on the same floor they won the TBI title on almost three months ago.
On Friday, trying to shake the pesky Wildcats who sat within a 48-42 score early in the third quarter, the OKM magic kicked in.
The Huskies, led by the dynamic play of its Grade 11 guard Lily Pink, cranked up their intensity and used an 11-0 run to build a 59-42 lead en route to an even eventual 80-67 triumph.
“I think we trust our process and we play to our strengths,” explained OKM senior point guard Melaina Corrado. “When we get stops, we’re able to transition and fast break. Once we get that down, we excel and that creates the energy we use to feed off each other.
It was through that organic process which Pink (23 points, 13 rebounds, five steals), Corrado (11 points), Grade 10 guard Tatum Wade (18 points, four steals) and Grade 11’s Devon Felt (10 points) and Makenna Jacklin (13 points) took turns combining for 65 points.
That defence will of course be a huge part of Saturday’s final as they face the winners of the tier’s second semifinal between Abbotsford and North Vancouver’s Argyle.
And when you ask OKM head coach Meghan Faust about characteristics of her team’s defence, it’s readily apparent it’s as much about attitude as it is schematics.
“Whenever we step up our defence, and we remember to do the little things we’ve talked about all year, do those little things which set you apart from your opponent, from even your own teammates, you get stops and all of that leads to our transition,” Faust said.
It’ a very different world for OKM girls hoops than it was 12 months ago, when they won an 11th hour wildcard qualifier to the join the Triple A field, but wound up losing in the quarterfinals.
“Right now, it’s surreal,” said Corrado. “At the start of the year, we set our goal to make it to the final, and it’s crazy that it’s actually here. The time is now and our team is ready. We have ‘FAMILY’ written across our t-shirts and we hundred percent mean it. We are a family and I can’t imagine my life without all of these girls.”
Marina Radocaj, the 6-foot-2 Grade 9, had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Wildcats.
McMath senior point guard Liz Kennedy wrapped up her high school career as far as the championship side of the draw is concerned, with 14 points and six rebounds.
Kennedy will next season play for the X-Women at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
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