LANGLEY — Halftime.
As the South Kamloops Titans showed Saturday, it can be enough time to change the course of a game and ultimately deliver a repeat provincial championship.
Just don’t get too picky with head coach Del Komarniski about exactly what changes he made to turn his Titans into lock-down second-half defenders against Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies.
“We just tightened a couple of things up,” Komarniski said after the Titans, who took a 27-25 lead into the halftime locker room, emerged true defensive titans in the second half, outscoring the Grizzlies 43-18 en route to a 70-43 victory in what was a re-match of last season’s championship final as the B.C. senior girls Double A basketball championships closed out a four-day run Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
The moves were designed to slow G.W. Graham’s force-of-nature senior forward Deanna Tuchscherer, the hero in Friday night’s semifinal overtime win over the Langley Christian Lightning.
Tuchscherer as well her talented Grade 9 sister Julia, are a duo who can cause havoc to any frontcourt, and Komarniski knew a repeat title wasn’t going to happen without a tweak to the schematics of his team’s post defence.
“Deanna puts such pressure on a defence that we had to pay a lot of attention to her, and out rotations out of the help were a little sloppy in the first half, so we figured the thing out and made adjustment,” said Komarniski as the change limited the Grizzlies to just 24 points in the paint on the game.
G.W. Graham didn’t help their cause by shooting 3-of-20 from three-point range.
Absolutely huge in that defensive about-face was the team’s senior post, 6-foot-6 Olivia Morgan-Cherchas.
Taking away the deep paint at the back of the Titans’ zone, Morgan-Cherchas used all her wingspan, her growing strength and a more agressive mindeset to change the game more in the second half than any other player on the floor.
Under-sized forwards Kendra McDonald, Jenna Dandarund, and guards Fiona Brisco and Maddy Gobeil, the latter named tourney MVP for a second straight year, all helped clog the paint.
G.W. Graham scored just nine points in each of the third and fourth quarters.
After combining to score 50 points in double-overtime win the night before, the Tuchscherer sisters had nine combined points Saturday over the second half.
“We committed a couple of people to Deanna,” said Komarniski. “We wanted to take her out of her game, so we challenged other kids to produce. You can’t give that girl a lot of room. She does very well with space so we tried to take that space away in the lane.”
Gobeil, one of the province’s elite, was again a clear MVP choice.
Last season she hit 17 straight free throws at one point of the championship game, a 73-67 OT win over the Grizzlies.
On Saturday, she went 12-for-12 for the game, had a game-high 29 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Yet she was quick to trumpet the play of Morgan-Cherchas, who was the primary space-eater underneath the basket against the Tuchscherer sisters.
“She played amazing today,” said Gobeil of her teammate who had 14 points and eight rebounds. “She was getting beat up inside but she never gave up. She just continued to push and persevere.”
And to give credit where it is due, the Titans would not be the stout team they are without McDonald, who inch-for-inch might be the best rebounder in the province.
“I’ve always said that,” Komarniski said when asked if he thought McDonald was one of the most under-rated players in the province. “She scores, she plays tough defence and she really rebounds.”
Does she ever.
Besides her 10 points Saturday in the title game, she had 16 rebounds.
South Kam’s back-to-back titles matched the consecutive crowns won in 2012 and 2013 by former head coach Ken Olynyk.
Deanna Tuchscherer led the Grizzlies with 14 points and eight rebounds but was the team’s only double-digit scorer. Julia Tuchscherer had six points and 10 rebounds.
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