Someone forgot to tell Reiko Ohama that she was supposed to be nervous on Thursday night.
Ohama, a Grade 10 guard, had 20 points as the NorKam Saints defeated the Sa-Hali Sabres 53-49 in a Fulton Cup senior girls semifinal at the Tournament Capital Centre. The Saints will play the South Kamloops Titans in the championship final today, 6:30 p.m., at the TCC.
South Kam beat the Westsyde Whundas 98-19 in Thursday's other semifinal.
Ohama stole the show - and the game - last night, scoring 20 second-half points as the Saints came back to win. Many of those late points were huge for the Saints - she hit three free throws in the last second of the third quarter to turn the momentum and then hit a big three-pointer in the final five minutes.
With the game tied 49-49 with 40 seconds remaining, Ohama, the smallest player on the floor, drove to the hoop and earned a trip to the free-throw line, where she made two shots. She made another free-throw with 25 seconds left as the Saints pulled away.
"She was living for that at the end," said Saints head coach Lindsey Karpluk. "She's probably done it in her mind 50,000 or 60,000 times. It was really cool to see a high-school athlete step forward like that."
It was a nice bit of redemption for the Saints, who lost last year's final 51-47 to the Sabres. In that game, the Saints fought back late, but couldn't close the deal.
Karpluk, in his third season with the Saints, wasn't looking for revenge last night.
"I told the kids before the game that it would be a close game, a three- or four-point game, either way," he said. "We told them that if they played well, it would take care of itself."
The Saints were fantastic in shutting down a deep Sabres squad that includes forward Shenise Sigsworth, who recently committed to the TRU WolfPack for next season. It was an impressive defensive effort.
"I give (daughter and assistant coach) Cara credit for that," Karpluk said. "She put in a couple of things for us on help defence, and the kids have bought in.
"They're physically willing to take a bit of a beating now, where three weeks ago, nobody wanted to touch anyone."
Rebecca Mathieson had 10 points for the Saints. Taylor MacDonald and Marilyn Bowda each scored nine for the Sabres, who are to play the Whundas in the bronze-medal game today, 3:15 p.m., at the TCC.
Sigsworth ended with six points, and, although it wasn't her most productive night, also was tough on the glass and on defence.
WolfPack head coach Scott Reeves heard from Sigsworth earlier this week - she told him that she had decided to play at TRU. She will be the second Sabres grad on the team - former Sa-Hali guard Taiysa Worsfold is in her second season with the WolfPack.
"(Sigsworth) is a versatile player," Reeves said. "She's strong, which you need to be to play at this level. I got to see her over the summer with my daughter's club team and I saw her shoot the three, I saw her slash to the basket. She's a good rebounder, can guard on the perimeter and guard on the post.
"Her versatility is going to make her a very good role player at the CIS level."
© Kamloops Daily News