A loss two weeks ago in the district championships served the Brookswood Bobcats well.
The ’Cats fell in the junior girls Langley district championship game, 59-53 to the Langley Christian Lightning.
“We definitely didn’t play the way we can,” said Brookswood coach Sarah Cameron.
“(But) anytime you lose a game like that, I think it provides some motivation.”
Given another opportunity against their Langley rivals, the ’Cats took the rematch, 51-35 in the quarter-finals of the Fraser Valley championships, which were held at Abbotsford’s Robert Bateman Secondary.
Brookswood, seeded fifth, then knocked off the No. 1 Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 74-63 in the semifinals and capped things off with a 52-47 win over the Earl Marriott Mariners in Saturday’s championship game.
The ’Cats were led by the dynamic duo of Mackendra Konig (tournament MVP) and Neyha Lali (first team all-star), both of whom are in Grade 8.
Konig had 17 points while Lali had 15.
Brookswood led 18-11 after one quarter and extended their lead to 11 points at the half. They led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter against the seventh seed. The Mariners would get as close as five points in the fourth.
“For a lot of our girls, they hadn’t really played in a high pressure game like that before. A little bit of nerves got to them, they tightened up, we started making some mistakes we hadn’t been making, some bad turnovers and things like that,” Cameron said.
“But we were able to execute in the last two minutes and keep possession of the basketball.”
This is the school’s first junior girls Fraser Valley championship since the 2010/11 season — when Cameron and current Brookswood senior coach Chris Veale were on the bench — and they also won provincials that same season.
The ’Cats now get set for next week’s provincial championships at the Langley Events Centre, with the tournament running March 1 to 4.
Brookswood enters as the No. 11 seed — the top eight seeds were pre-determined with teams winning qualifier tournaments around the province earlier this season — out of the 24 teams.
Langley Christian is one of the teams already slotted in those top eight. The Lightning, seeded fourth for the Fraser Valleys, won their first two games, defeating Southridge 41-24 and Seaquam 48-30. But after losing to Brookswood, they lost their next two, falling 44-33 to MEI and 41-37 to Heritage Woods.
John Morrow Black Press
Brookswood Bobcats’ Neyha Lali drives to the hoop against the Earl Marriott Mariners in Saturday’s junior girls Fraser Valley championship game at Abbotsford’s Robert Bateman Secondary. The ’Cats won the title 52-47.