LANGLEY — Oh my… how their star has risen over the nine-plus months.
Last season, Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission Huskies had to beat Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers on a neutral court in Merritt in a sudden-elimination, last-chance to the Big Dance clash just to qualify for the B.C. Triple-A championship tournament.
They won that game, and ever since getting a taste of the Langley Events Centre court, they haven’t been able to get enough.
Grade 11 forward Makenna Jacklin scored all but two of her team’s points during a key 10-4 fourth-quarter opening run, and the Huskies used them to run away and hide on their way to a 59-40 win over the Langley Christian Lightning in the first of two TBI 2019 Final Four semifinals staged Friday evening at the LEC.
The Huskies will now face the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between its city rivals, the Kelowna Owls, and East Vancouver’s Britannia Bruins, in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. final.
Jacklin, who hadn’t provided a huge part of the scoring load to that point in the tournament, went six-for-six from the stripe over the run, and added another pair off a short jumper, further driving home the point that last season’s last-second qualifiers have grown into their own, with scoring options galore.
“It’s been incredible,” OKM point guard Melaina Corrado said of her team’s hot start this season, including its run to the TBI final. “We lost a bunch of seniors from last season, but I am so impressed with all of the young girls on our team, and to see how far we have come in a short time… this group has just been unreal.”
That may be a self-critique, but it’s hard to find any fault with it.
Showcasing its depth here in Langley the past two days, the Huskies got scoring from eight different players, led by the 16 points of Grade 11 forward Lily Pink.
Jacklin, who was 8-of-8 overall from the free throw line, added 12, while Corrado and Grade 10 forward Stella LaGrange had seven apiece.
The Huskies built their lead to 15 points after three quarters when Grade 10 guard Elana Corrado banked the ball home in the paint with five seconds remaining.
The Lighting opened the game on a 9-2 run, getting all of their points on three straight triples by Makenna Gardner.
Okanagan Mission, however, was able to build a pair of nine-point leads over the first half, the last at 29-20.
Yet the tight nature of the contest carried over into the second half when the Lightning’s Lainey Shelvey hit a trey to pull her team to within 29-27 with a second left in the first.
Gardner led LCS with 15 points, while Shelvey added 12 and Sydney Bradshaw another nine.
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