OKANAGAN MISSION 57 SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL 49
BY Howard Tsumura
LANGLEY — Last season’s Tsumura Basketball Invitational just managed to beat the shutdown of all high school basketball tournaments in the new year owing to the spread of the Omicron variant.
Still, the threat was still real enough to keep up-country teams on a travel ban and off the court.
One of those, chomping at the bit for a return, has clearly relished its return to the grand pre-provincial stage of the Langley Events Centre this week.
“I love that we are able to come down and get battled-tested early and survive the battle, because last year we couldn’t travel, we got no close games for a while,” said Okanagan Mission Huskies head coach Meghan Faust following her team’s hotly-contested win over a defensive-minded pack of Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs. “And so to come down here and have close game after close game… it’s so good for the girls.”
It seems like a long time ago now, but the Huskies were crowned the 2019 TBI girls champs as part of the 2019-20 B.C. high school basketball season.
The entire province, of course, was then shut down in 2020-21, so this season’s return of the Huskies marks their first appearance in the LEC’s early-season classic in three years.
Led by the 20 points of 6-foot-2 senior forward Kanani Coon and a dozen more from Grade 11 guard Presley Hopf, the Huskies also managed to play some stingy defence themselves, highlighted a second quarter in which it held the Bulldogs to just five points and one made-field goal to lead 27-18 at the break.
Still, the Bulldogs played OKM on virtually even terms over the second half.
Six-foot forward Stefanie Hart poured him a game-high 24 points in the loss for SWC, while guard Amaya Hrbinic added 10.
“I liked that we’ve cleaned up our defence,” added Faust. “In the last game we played before TBI, we had a lot of trouble with help-side and since then, we’ve definitely stepped that up. I think we were also able to find ways to score when we seemed to be stagnant… different creative ways to score.”
The Huskies get a tough test tonight as they face No. 1-ranked Quad A Riverside in a 7:45 p.m. semifinal clash on Centre Court.
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