WALNUT GROVE 82 KELOWNA 48
By Howard Tsumura
LANGLEY — Kiera Pemberton’s joy for the game can not be hidden.
In fact you can tell simply by watching her in action just when the Walnut Grove Gators 6-foot senior guard is at her most joyous on the court.
And so, it turns out, can she.
On Thursday night, on an LEC Centre Court on which she has produced some of the most the dramatic performances of her high school career, she scored 42 more points in her team’s TBI Super 16 quarterfinals win over the Kelowna Owls. And over the course of her evening, there were those moments which, when a little open floor presented itself, Pemberton’s stride seemed to physically change.
They were longer, but at the the same time almost springier?
“Yes, 100 per cent I notice it… it’s an awesome feeling, it’s from the adrenaline pumping,” she laughed after the game.
What does it remind her of?
“I don’t know… my parents call me a gazelle sometimes.”
However you want to label it, it’s all part of a near-palpable aura which seems to surround one of the most dynamic scorers in B.C. girls basketball history.
Yet as she continued to prove unguardable Thursday against what is a very long, athletic and versatile Owls’ defence, it wasn’t just about her offence.
In fact ask her what constitutes a good game for her and she pays no focus to her offensive numbers.
“For me I think about how well I am doing both on offence and on defence,” she said. “I just want to help my team, and how our team was playing today, the energy was just awesome… we just left it all out there and I am really proud of us.”
As far as high school superstars go, Kiera Pemberton is the kind of player she is because of the kind of person she is.
She speaks of her team as ‘Us’ in every instance, and as much as she celebrates the successes of her teammates, she absolutely doesn’t mind poking fun at herself as well, especially when she makes a mistake.
What? Imagine that!
In all seriousness, when a player so accomplished, dynamic and exciting does not follow through and finish those on-court move we all consider rudimentary, you notice. It just comes with the territory.
On Thursday, with 4:39 left in the third quarter and her team leading 63-30, Pemberton jumped in the passing lane at half court, and picked off a pass that she immediately turned into a breakaway fast-break lay-in just waiting to happen.
Those gazelle-like strides she referenced? Yup. So fun to watch.
But as she went up for the gimme lay-in…. she missed it.
She smiled a smile that lit up the gym. And in that moment, she had connected with the entire crowd.
Of course this happens to every player at every level of the game in every gym in the world.
Still, it was fun afterwards just to ask Pemberton about it.
“It sucks.. but it’s part of the game,” she said. “You can’t be attached to it. You just play the game and go get a stop on D.”
And on Thursday, that’s what she went on to do, and she did it better than anyone else in the building.
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