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Lakers net big win against Voodoo to advance to Okanagan Valley Championship
With a 83-51 win against the Rutland Voodoo, the Pen High Lakers senior girls basketball team qualified for the Okanagan AAA Valley championship.
Lakers coach Lesley Lacroix said Wednesday night's quarter-final win was similar to the 84-55 victory against the Salmon Arm Jewels on Feb. 15.
Hayden Craig had a big night draining 25 points, while grabbing 13 rebounds.
"They beat her up in the key and she played through it," said Lacroix. "She's strong."
Lacroix was also impressed with Emily Clarke who rang up 18 points, while fighting for 14 rebounds.
"She's just hitting her stride," the coach said. "She's attacking the rim and realizing that scoring is on her shoulders."
Clarke said she was pleased her teammates kept their intensity for the whole game.
"Sometimes it's tough against a weaker team," she said.
Ana Moroziuk had another strong game with 13 points and seven steals, while Tessa Lannon-Paakspuu was also good.
Lacroix is very excited with the way her group is playing, and especially the offence which had the Lakers leading the Voodoo 46-26 at halftime
The Valley Championships start Friday in Kelowna against the host Kelowna Secondary Owls. The Owls won both games this season, 52-45 and 58-39. Scoring from long distance was the difference for the Owls in the last game.
Lacroix said the Owls are a good shooting team and the Lakers will need to extend their defence to be successful. The one thing Lacroix didn't like about her team's defensive play against the Voodoo was they were a bit slow. Players also had their hands positioned too low to deny the shots they needed to.
Clarke believes the advantage against the Owls is in their favour.
"We think we have a good chance," said Clarke.
To Clarke, the Owls took them lightly in their last game and it was their three-point shooting that sealed the game.
"We have to work on closing out," she said. "We have come a long way, it's exciting.
"We're excited about valleys," Clarke continued. "It's a good test to see what we can do. We're ready."
Lacroix likes the chemistry among the players, which is important, and their confidence that allows them to step up their play against strong teams.
Should the Lakers finish second in the Okanagan Valley, they will be forced to play the sixth-place team from the Fraser Valley as there are only 1.5 berths for the Okanagan. Lacroix is disappointed by that because Salmon Arm, the Lakers, Owls and South Kamloops have been ranked among the top-15 all season. With that kind of success, she expected the Okanagan Valley to receive more berths. Now they must win two in a row to advance to provincials.
"We're prepared for it," said Lacroix.
The Lakers ended their regular season at home with a loss to the Salmon Arm Gold on Feb. 15. The Lakers won three games during the season, all in tournament play. On Feb. 16, the Lakers traveled to Oliver to take on the Hornets in the Old Shoe Game, losing by 28 points.
Above, Lakers power forward Gary Garcha gets set to make a pass while guarded by Morgan Crandlemire.
Lakers notes: Wednesday's home game against the Voodoo for the senior girls was the last for graduating players Clarke, Craig, Moroziuk and Jessie Garcha. Lacroix said that Clarke and Moroziuk have attracted interest from colleges. Camosun College and the UBC-O Heat are possible destinations.