Believe in blue: ’Cats crowned champs
Heartbroken the year before, this time it was the Brookswood Bobcats turn to celebrate.
The Bobcats captured the B.C. senior girls Triple-A provincial championship with a 64-57 victory over the Oak Bay Breakers in Saturday’s final at the Langley Events Centre.
The championship was the fourth in school history for Brookswood as they won three consecutive titles from 2004 to 2006. But they lost in the 2013 championship game to the South Kamloops Titans.
“It really motivated us,” said guard Jessie Brown, of last year’s defeat.
“We just kept trying to push and push. We know what it feels like to lose a championship.”
“I have no words to describe it, just pure happiness” said Tayla Jackson.
“I have goose bumps.”
Jackson was named player of the game after scoring 20 points and grabbing 23 rebounds. She also had two blocked shots and was instrumental in containing Oak Bay’s Lauren Yearwood, a national cadet team player for Canada.
Yearwood had 20 points and nine blocked shots — she was named the tournament’s defensive player of the tournament and a first team all-star — but just nine rebounds.
Brown and Jackson were also first team all-stars.
“That was probably Tayla Jackson’s best game for us,” said long-time Brookswood coach Neil Brown, who said he was most likely taking time away from coaching.
“That was huge, that was the game right there,” he said about the match-up between Jackson and Yearwood.
Aislinn Konig — who was named most valuable player of the tournament — finished with 19 points while Jessie Brown had 14. Konig averaged 28 points and six rebounds over the four-day tournament.
The province’s top long-distance shooter, Brown was uncharacteristically off, hitting just one of 11 three-point attempts and two of 10 field goal attempts.
By comparison, Brown was 10-for-24 from downtown in the first two games — a 99-39 win over Prince George and a 88-65 defeat of MEI — but a combined 1-for-12 in the 89-58 semifinal win over W.J. Mouat and the victory over Oak Bay.
Neil Brown described the championship victory as ugly.
“We made a comment that we may have set girls basketball back for 20 years after this final,” he said. “But sometimes you win ugly.”
“Games like this are very emotional so the kids, you say something to them and they don’t even hear a word you say,” he added.
“It was a real screwed up game, for a lack of a better word.”
The ’Cats were down 15-10 after one quarter but clawed back to take a 29-28 lead into halftime. And when Konig went to the bench with her fourth foul in the third quarter, things did not look good for Brookswood.
But the team tightened up defensively, and took the lead for good, building a nine-point lead at one point.
The lead was 49-43 after three quarters and Brookswood survived a poor shooting fourth quarter — they only hit two field goals — by hitting nine of their 12 free throw attempts to hang on for the 64-57 victory.
The coach credited the play of Marissa Van Noort and Kayla Hamel, who both stepped up on the defensive end in Konig’s absence.
The ’Cats finished the season at 40-1, with their lone loss coming two weeks earlier to Holy Cross in the Fraser Valley final.
The loss helped to focus the team said Jackson.
“We knew nothing was a given and we just had to do what we had to do,” she said.
The Bobcats fans also won the tournament’s school spirit award.