Britannia rules the TCC

The Vancouver-Britannia Bruins saved their best for last.

The Bruins ran past the Victoria-Lambrick Park Pride 69-61 in Saturday's final of the B.C. AA girls basketball championship at the Tournament Capital Centre.

Britannia was the favourite heading into the four-day, 16-team tournament, but didn't really play like it in the first three quarters of the final.

But the fourth quarter put to rest any doubt as to which AA team is the best in the province - the Bruins outscored the Pride 21-4 over the final 10 minutes, as dominating a display as was seen in the tournament this year.

"Our plan was to tire them out," said Britannia guard Karen Li, the tournament MVP. "Our strength is to keep running the floor, and pound the ball inside, and it eventually worked."

The Pride's downfall was predictable, even to its coach.

Lambrick Park essentially played five players throughout the tournament. In fact, only one player in the Pride's starting five left the floor over its final two games - Tyger Holt had a 23-second break in a Friday semifinal.

So, when the fourth quarter came around Saturday, the Pride was gassed, and the Bruins were ready to pounce.

"We were up nine going into the fourth, and I think we ran out of gas," said Lambrick Park head coach Rocky Vitale. "Give the kids credit, those five kids played a lot of minutes.

"We had a chance to win . . . but that's a lot of minutes, and our legs . . . we just couldn't finish."

It was a patient effort from the Bruins, who happen to know a thing or two about patience.

Britannia waited exactly 364 days for another chance at the provincial final, after losing 76-56 to the Vancouver-York House Tigers in the 2011 final.

The Bruins were beaten by a superior team last year - York House moved up to AAA this year, where it finished second in B.C., to the South Kamloops Titans - but Britannia made sure it was the best in B.C. in 2012.

"We wanted it the whole year," Li said. "Last year, we missed out on first place, so we made it our goal, and this is a big accomplishment for our team."

The Bruins were the most celebrated team in the tournament, with Li winning MVP, Jennifer Carpio taking top defensive player honours and Becky Fernandez and Jilliane Vina making the all-star team.

And while all those players - along with Ashley Dela Cruz Yip and Helen Wilson - had solid finals, it was the play of Fernandez that turned the tide in the fourth quarter.

Fernandez, a TRU WolfPack recruit, ended the game with 28 points and nine rebounds. Fourteen of those points came in the fourth quarter.

"(Fernandez) came up big and made some key shots," said Britannia head coach Mike Evans said. "Ashley made some handling errors early . . . but at the end she made some key moves and off-loaded the ball at the right time."

Holt scored 30 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for the Pride, and Emma Entzminger scored 15 points.

Chelsea Strandlund had 12 assists, and Mckenzie Smith grabbed 16 rebounds. Strandlund, Smith and Holt were tournament all-stars.

Carpio also scored 13 points for the Bruins.

"Britannia's 102 years old, and I don't know when provincials started for girls," Evans said. "I know that we have a photo from 1919 of the girls basketball team wearing skirts . . . I tell the girls I coached that team too.

"I think this is our first (girls) provincial championship."

It not only was a victory for the school, but also for the area in which the girls grew up.

"We represent the whole East Side," said Li, a Grade 12 guard. "We come from such an inner-city school, this means a lot to us - it's overwhelming."

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he Sa-Hali Sabres girls finished seventh after a 60-52 victory over the Nanaimo-Wellington Wildcats on Saturday.

Sa-Hali was led by all-star Nicole Karstein's 14 points, and Shenise Sigsworth scored 13. Emily Hilton and Kiana Rainville each scored 11 points, with Hilton also grabbing 12 rebounds.

Taeler Keir had 12 points for the Wildcats, who got 11 apiece from Ally Keir and Mariah VanSickle and 10 from Sara Simovic, who was an honourable mention all-star.

For final placings and award winners, please see the AA Scoreboard.

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca

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