While the Okanagan Mission Huskies are playing in their first-ever provincial championship game, their opponent, the Abbotsford Panthers are set to claim their third medal in the past four years with only a gold medal left to complete their set.
The two teams (seeded first and second as well) are set to meet on Saturday at Langley Events Centre at 2:45 p.m. in the gold medal game at the BC Secondary School 3A Championships.
This is the inaugural year of the new tier and the Panthers (all past 3A history has transitioned to 4A). Abbotsford won a title at that level in 1986 and has added a silver (2017) and bronze (2018) over the last few years.
Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission, the second seed, was up against the No. 3 R.A. McMath Wildcats of Richmond in the first semi-final with the Huskies winning 80-67.
OKM only trailed for seven seconds (and were only tied for 1:56), the Wildcats did put together a 16-7 spurt in the third quarter to close the gap down to six points. But the Huskies rattled off the game’s next 14 points to clinch a spot in the championship final.
Lily Pink led the victors with 23 points, 11 rebounds and five steals while Tatum Wade added 18 points and four steals. McMath countered with 18 points and 12 boards from Marina Radocaj and 14 points and six rebounds from Liz Kennedy.
While offences tend to get the bulk of the attention, Faust has been impressed with her team’s defence.
“We have gotten in some close games and our defence steps up and wins the game for us,” she raved.
Aside from an opening round blowout victory, the Huskies were pushed by the Valleyview Vikings in the quarter-finals before closing out a 10-point victory. They have also won the rebounding battle and come up with more steals these last two games as well.
Abbotsford got all it could handle against the fourth-seed Argyle Pipers with the North Vancouver school (making their first final four appearance since 1998) was up 18-10 at the first quarter break and led by a dozen with 2:38 to play in the half. The Panthers would close the first half and open the second on a 29-8 run and never trailed again in the 65-58 win.
It was a one-point game with four minutes remaining but Lakresha Edwards and Malia Lenz hit back-to-back threes to create all the separation the Panthers would need.
“Fantastic game, we just hit a couple of big shots at the end and I think that was the real difference,” said Abbotsford coach Prentice Lenz.
The Panthers’ Marin Lenz continued her masterful performance over the first three games with 32 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and five steals.