Thursday April 24, 2014

Titans girls repeat at Fulton Cup

Defence won't win a championship if it isn't accompanied with at least a little offence.

The Sa-Hali Sabres learned this Friday in the senior girls final of the Fulton Cup preseason city championship. Sa-Hali lost 57-30 to the South Kamloops Titans at the Tournament Capital Centre, the Titans' second straight title and third in four years.

Sa-Hali, an honourable mention in the provincial AA rankings, was facing a tough task in defeating the Titans, the No. 7-ranked AAA team. And while the Sabres were solid in their own end of the court, they weren't doing much at the other end.

"I was pleased with the game - I thought we worked really hard defensively and offensively we just turned the ball over too much," said Sabres head coach Jody Vosper. "Against a team like that, you can't turn over the ball like that. Our turnovers led to their points.

"I thought we did a good job challenging their shooters and didn't give them many open looks."

For the first eight minutes and change, the Sabres were right in the game, trailing only 12-9. But South Kam scored seven straight points to end the quarter and stretched the lead to 34-19 at the half.

If that wasn't enough of a lead, the Titans scored 11 of the 14 points in a slow third quarter, and the Sabres never pressed again.

"We worked on a lot of things," said Titans head coach Corey Yamaoka. "We worked on some zone play and we mixed it up a little bit. We put all of the things we worked on the first two games into play tonight."

Tournament MVP Emma Piggin had 14 points for the Titans, who also got 12 from all-star Mieke DuMont, 10 from Kanesha Reeves and nine from Emily Vilac.

Sa-Hali was led by Jaida Wallat's 10 points, and also got eight from Haley Cochran and seven from Marilyn Bowden. Wallat and Cochran were named to the tournament all-star team.

Both of these teams know that the schedule will get much more difficult from today through the end of the season in March.

South Kam is off to a tournament in the Fraser Valley on the second weekend of January, followed by the Top-Ten Shootout in Coquitlam.

"Those are going to be good tournaments," Yamaoka said. "Two weekends in a row, we're going to see some good teams . . . then we start getting into league play."

The Sabres, meanwhile, have tournaments in Vernon and Penticton on the schedule, not to mention their home tournament from Jan. 18-19.

"Our tournament, we'll probably have eight of the top 12 (AA) teams in the province ," Vosper said. "Then we go to Princess Margaret in Penticton, and there will probably be five top-10 teams there. Then there's Holy Cross (in Surrey) and they're all top teams there."

If the Sabres got nothing else out of Friday's loss, it was some experience against a strong team. Vosper has a team full of hard workers, and he knows the Sabres will improve.

"We have a bunch of work to do as a team," he said, "but I'm really happy with our effort and how we played tonight. We competed."

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The Titans also were victorious in the junior girls event, knocking off the NorKam Saints 42-27 at the TCC in Friday's final.

Rachel Peters led the Titans with 13 points. Billie Sankey had six points for the Saints.

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