LANGLEY — They may be young, but if you listen to head coach Prentice Lenz talk about his team, it seems pretty clear that the Abbotsford Panthers have learned to embrace some pretty big concepts well ahead of their time.
On Thursday, in a game that threatened to put the game back to days of cagers and peach baskets, the Panthers put their heart into the details, eventually thawing the game’s glacial pace to score 21 fourth-quarter points and beat the Lower Mainland champion Argyle Pipers 67-36 to earn a spot in Friday’s Final Four at the 2017 Telus B.C. girls AAA basketball championships.
“This team is pretty gritty,” said Lenz. “It’s been quite a roller-coaster ride for them. So they have bought in pretty substantially that you’re going to have days where everything isn’t going to go in, and you are not going to shoot 75 per cent from the field all the time.”
Thursday was one of those, both for the Panthers and the Pipers.
Imagine a second quarter in which both teams combined for 24 points? Or how about a third quarter where they combine to score 19?
I know, right? Yikes.
Yet the quarterfinal clash had nothing to do with style points and everything to do with fighting for a chance to face the Brookswood Bobcats in Friday’s 5:15 p.m. semifinal at the Langley Events Centre.
The Panthers played great defence against Argyle, holding them to a combined 11 points in the second (eight points) and third quarters (three points).
“They have an exceptional team and two very exceptional girls who can really score,” Lenz said of senior Sierra Scheffer and Grade 11 Georgia Swant who combined for 20 points on Thursday. “They were our focus and we did a nice job, I thought, of making sure they didn’t get on a roll.”
In such a low scoring contest, the Panthers still produced four double-figure scorers.
Sienna Lenz scored 21, sister Marin 19, forward Kelsey Roufosse 13 and Sydney Fetterly 10.
Now comes Brookswood, and as the old adage goes, it’s tough to beat the same team three times.
“Brookswood will be prepared and we will be prepared,” said Lenz of the three-time defending champs whom his team has beaten twice this season, including on the very court Friday’s contest will be played, back in December, in the finals of the Tsumura Basketball Invitational. “Yes, it’s Brookswood, but it’s also a (B.C.) semifinal and an opportunity to go out one more time and see what we are capable of doing. If the girls buy into that it should be a lot of fun.”
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