ALL STORIES BY GARY AHUJA (Langley Events Centre special for Varsity Letters)
LANGLEY — The No. 1 seeds are all still alive in the senior girls three draws, but on the junior side, Day brought the big upset.
SEMIFINALS (Centre Court, Langley Events Centre)
TOP HALF DRAW
3 p.m. — Little Flower Academy vs. South Kamloops
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
4:30 p.m. — Seaquam vs. Yale
Here’s a look at Thursday’s four quarterfinals, leading with the big one!
No. 8 Little Flower Academy Angels 51, No. 1 St. Michaels University School Blue Jags 45
LANGLEY — When the ball left Isabelle Heffring’s hand, her first thought was how much trouble she would get in from her coach.
“My first thought? My coach is going to kill me if I miss this, so it was kind of a prayer, but after it went in, it was pure joy,” Heffring recalled of her crucial shot in the No. 8 Little Flower Academy Angels 51-45 upset win over top-ranked St. Michaels University School Blue Jags in the quarter-final round.
The Angels trailed 22-8 at the half but made a ferocious second-half comeback. The team pulled even at 41 with 2:25 to play but soon found themselves down two points with just over a minute to play when Heffring launched a three-pointer and banked it glass and in for a lead the team would not give up.
And for the record, she did not call ‘glass.’
“No, I was praying,” she laughed when asked the question. “This is one I will remember forever.”
Making the victory even more sweet is the fact that just one month ago, the Blue Jags soundly defeated the Angels by 35 points.
“We wanted this so bad; nobody likes getting beat that bad,” said the Grade 10 guard.
Heffring spent much of the first half on the bench, hampered by two early fouls. She was scoreless in the first half but finished with 29 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter alone.
So with such a hot hand why was she worried about potentially missing the shot?
“It was a bit of an early shot … I felt like we could have been a bit more patient but sometimes in those games, you have to look to make big shots, and she did,” said LFA coach Carlie Paxton.
As for what the coaches said in the dressing room at the half with the team down 16 and just eight points to show for 16 minutes of effort?
“We just told them to worry about the next possession. Possession by possession, we are just going to keep chipping away,” the coach explained about their mentality. “We have to be patient and stick to our game plan.”
That game plan was a full-court pressure before dropping into a 1-3-1 zone to try and limit the talented Blue Jags.
“We just wanted to pressure the ball. They have two very talented post players and we wanted to make sure they didn’t make any easy passes into the paint,” Paxton said. “We wanted to pack the key as much as we could.”
Chioma Duru scored 12 to lead the Blue Jags.
No. 4 South Kamloops 55 , No. 5 Reynolds 41
Led by 25 points from Kiana Kaczur, the South Kamloops Titans are through to the final four after a 55-41 win in the four-five matchup of the quarter-final round.
The Grade 10 guard did the bulk of her damage in the first half, scoring 21 points in the game’s first 16 minutes to give the Titans a 28-19 lead heading into the locker room. And while she may have cooled off in the second half, Lucy Marchese picked up the slack scoring 14 of her 16 points after the break.
For the Roadrunners, Isabella Graves scored 12 points and Saige Parfitt had 10.
No. 2 Seaquam 52, No. 7 Pacific Academy 27
The Seaquam Seahawks wanted a shot at Centre Court and now they have just that.
“The girls are excited about this opportunity,” said coach Lucky Toor, following his team’s decisive 52-27 win over the No. 7 Pacific Academy Breakers in an all-South Fraser matchup in the quarter-final round of the tournament.
“It means everything (to make the final four). It has been our goal since the start of the season,” he said. “We knew we had a pretty skilled team, but you don’t know what else is out there at that point. We just stayed focused and worked hard.”
The Seahawks put this game out of reach early as they led 13-4 at the quarter break and then 32-8 at the half.
“The energy, the mindset, the mentality. We are such a young team – our core of our team is three Grade 8s and three Grade 9s – so for young players to bring that mindset and be playoff-ready tonight, that is what it was all about,” Toor said about what impressed him most about the victory.
And it was the Grade 8s leading the way for Seaquam as the trio of Camryn Tait (13 points), Syra Toor (12) and Callie Brost (10) scored 35 of the team’s 52 points.
No. 6 Yale 56, No. 3 Okanagan Mission 49
After the Okanagan Mission Huskies hit a huge three-pointer to tie the score at 49, that could have been a back-breaker for many teams. But despite having just two Grade 10s on their 11-player roster, the Lions did not buckle, composing themselves to score the game’s final seven points for the 56-49 victory.
The win secures the Abbotsford school a spot in the final four.
“It was a battle the whole way – we were hitting shots; they were hitting shots – it was a good tough fight for us. We came into it hoping we could win, but we knew they were a really good team and knew we had a battle on our hands,” said Yale coach Jason Borseth.
After Yale went up 51-49, the defence came up with a stop and Addie Currie drilled a three-pointer to give the team a five-point cushion before both she and Maeva Carnahan hit a free throw each to secure the win.
Yale was the No. 6 seed while Kelowna’s Huskies were the third seed.
Borseth said a top-eight finish at the start of the season was a realistic goal “and top four was something we were hoping for and dreaming of. And to do it is pretty special.”
The pure joy on the players’ faces and the excitement showed just how much this meant to the young team.
“These girls didn’t play any meaningful basketball last year. The last time they played was Grade 7. This is a big deal for them, this is exciting,” he said.
Yale’s Ava Heppner was the top scorer, finishing with 21 points, 16 of which came in the first half. She also hit four first-half three-pointers. As a team, the Lions were good on eight shots from beyond the arc.
The Huskies also connected on eight three-pointers with Peyton Friesen accounting for half those as part of a 13-point game. Jada Burden led OKM with 14.
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