Who says third-place games don't matter! The Okanagan Mission Huskies (pictured) and the Yale Lions put on a tremendous show in the Quad-A third-place game on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Mark Steffens property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2024. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

Why bronze is still golden! Hopf’s two clutch free throws allow OKM’s Huskies to have their Quad-A medal moment at the LEC!

BY AARON MARTIN (Special for Varsity Letters)

(Note — Varsity Letters will do it’s best to post championship game stories form the 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A finals today from the LEC. Please check back later tonight for updates. For stories you don’t see out promise is to get them to you as quickly as possible given the scheduling and broadcast duties which also present themselves on Championship Saturday)

–Howard Tsumura

LANGLEY — The clock said it all: 4.6 seconds left, tie game.

Okanagan Mission senior Presley Hopf stepped to the free throw line, likely for the final time as a high school basketball player.

Two shots, nothing but net.

Coming up with a key defensive stop to run down the final seconds, Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission Huskies took third place in the B.C. Quad-A championship tourney, scoring a dramatic 71-69 win over Abbotsford’s Yale Lions.

There’s a notion in one-off elimination tournaments that once a squad has been knocked out of championship contention, these so-called “consolation” games mean nothing. If a team isn’t playing for a title, why play at all?

Anyone who watched the Huskies celebrate upon hearing the final buzzer Saturday would question that notion. “We were a little bit sad at the beginning of the game,” admitted Hopf. “There’s six of us, six seniors (Hopf, Faith Hunter, Jada Burden, Asia Borg, Ayla Mulleny, and Payton Friesen), who won’t be playing together again. But we all knew that we were going to be playing for each other. We’re still at provincials – the big stage, the big dance. We came here to play for each other, and I think that helped keep us going, helped keep us focused, especially there at the end.”

However, talking about those final shots in particular, Hopf noted she had to lean on both her emotions and her training to come up clutch.

“For this entire season, the amount of running we’ve had to do, and we do a lot of drills on free throws. I just had to go up there and trust the work I’ve put in. I wasn’t having a great shooting game, but I knew that I wasn’t just up there shooting for myself – I was shooting for my team, my coaches. I just took a breath and let them go.”

Leading up to that dramatic final few seconds, the game was a roller-coaster filled with dominant stretches from both sides.

OKM’s Presley Hopf (with ball) wound up lifting her Huskies to third place in Saturday’s Quad-A bronze medal final at the LEC. n the Quad-A third-place game on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Mark Steffens property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2024. All Rights Reserved)

After OKM opened the contest with a couple of quick buckets, the Lions ripped off a brilliant 19-2 run over the next four minutes. Maeva Carnahan and Ella Bohn were both electric for Yale, posting a game-high 22 points and 18 points, respectively.

The duo were not only huge as the Lions forged ahead early, but as the game progressed, those two continued to hit big shots to keep the game close until the very end.

The Lions maintained their lead of 10 points, give or take, until the beginning of the third quarter.

Whatever halftime adjustments the Huskies made on defense paid immediate dividends, as they held Yale to just three third-quarter points over the course of eight minutes. Meanwhile, the Huskies’ attack continued to chip away at the Yale lead, eventually drawing even about mid-way through the frame.

OKM seemed to keep that momentum up for a while, leading by as much as eight, 66-58, in the fourth. But Carnahan dropped a couple of deft layups as part of a late desperation run, including a bucket to get the two sides all square at 69-69 with just those seconds to spare.

Huskies’ head coach Meghan Faust admitted that there had been some concern about getting her team motivated for the third-place showdown, coming off an 81-65 loss to the Riverside Rapids in yesterday’s semifinals.

“It was a hard game the night before, and our expectation were different, but I should have known. By the time we got in the car to get over here, their vibes were completely different, and they were hungry to win this one.”

Faust also noted how important this game was to her graduating class.

“With these girls especially, except for Faith who just joined us more recently, they’ve been playing together since they were in Grade 4. I can’t imagine how much this game meant to them, but I’m happy we got the win for them.”

If you’re reading this story or viewing these photos on any website other than one belonging to a university athletic department, it has been taken without appropriate permission. In these challenging times, true journalism will survive only through your dedicated support and loyalty. VarsityLetters.ca and all of its exclusive content has been created to serve B.C.’s high school and university sports community with hard work, integrity and respect. Feel free to drop us a line any time at howardtsumura@gmail.com.

One thought on “Why bronze is still golden! Hopf’s two clutch free throws allow OKM’s Huskies to have their Quad-A medal moment at the LEC!

  1. Thank you for creating the moment, Howard. We’ve never met but as a retired teacher, coach and ref I truly appreciate your efforts.

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