Bruins drop Sabres en route to semifinals

B.C. AA Basketball Championships

Jody Vosper, head coach of the Sa-Hali Sabres senior girls, offered up a pretty simple explanation for what went wrong for his team on the second day of the provincial AA basketball championships.

The Sabres lost 70-50 to the Vancouver-Britannia Bruins in a quarterfinal at the Tournament Capital Centre on Thursday. Sa-Hali is scheduled to play the Vancouver-Seycove Seyhawks in a consolation game today, 12:30 p.m., at the TCC.

Sa-Hali had a wonderful opening half against Britannia, the runaway favourite and the tournament's No. 1 seed. But everything went wrong in the third quarter, when the Bruins put up 29 points, opened a 12-point lead and never looked back.

It wasn't one thing, Vosper said, it was a whole bunch of things.

"No. 6 (Karen Li) came out and shot lights out," Vosper started. "We had a couple of easy looks inside that we missed early, and they got a bit of a lead.

"Shenise (Sigsworth) got her fourth foul and had to sit - all of that kind of changed the momentum of the game."

The Bruins, who finished second at last year's provincial championship, are off to the semifinals today, 2:15 p.m., against the Vernon Panthers. The other semifinal, which is scheduled for 5:45 p.m., will feature the Surrey-Holy Cross Crusaders and the Victoria-Lambrick Park Pride.

Saturday's final is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

The Sabres gave the Bruins everything they had all game, but the speedy Britannia girls were able to run down a Sa-Hali team with only nine healthy players.

Sa-Hali was missing speedy point guard Miori Futemma, who twisted an ankle in a 49-40 Wednesday victory over the Victoria-St. Michael's Jaguars.

"We were (missing) our fastest player, and that was apparent at the end of the game," Vosper said. "It wasn't that obvious in the first half, but at the end, for sure."

The Bruins looked exactly as they did last season, when they took a team of mostly Grade 10 and 11 players to the provincial final. Britannia had to settle for silver after a 76-56 loss to the Vancouver-York House Tigers dynasty.

Now a year older, the Bruins look a little more polished and poised to claim a provincial title.

"We haven't changed much, but our team dynamic is better," said Britannia centre Becky Fernandez, a TRU WolfPack recruit. "We know each other better and we just want it more because we were on the wrong side of it last year."

The experience showed in the second half.

At the start, the Bruins struggled to find room against the Sa-Hali defence, scoring only 21 points in the first 20 minutes. But Britannia figured it out and really put on a second-half show.

"Sa-Hali played very well, they had a great game plan," said Bruins head coach Mike Evans. "They forced us into a lot of mistakes and a lot of turnovers. . . . Suddenly, they were ahead of us and there was a little anxiety."

Jilliane Vina had 18 points to lead the Bruins, and Li had 12, all coming on her four three-pointers in the third quarter. Fernandez also had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Jennifer Carpio had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Sa-Hali was led by Nicole Karstein, who had 13 points, with Emily Hilton getting 12 points and 13 rebounds and Sigsworth, in only 24 minutes, ending with 10 points and 14 rebounds.

The Sabres have finished fifth at three consecutive provincial tournaments, and fifth is the best they can hope for now.

They certainly worked hard against the Bruins, but just couldn't come up with a major upset.

"At the end of the game, it was pretty obvious that we had nothing left," Vosper said. "I'm extremely proud of how we played. We gave them a big scare; I just wish we would have had enough gas to last the whole game."

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he Sabres boys, meanwhile, lost 72-65 to the Victoria-Lambrick Park Lions at the TCC on Wednesday.

Sa-Hali will finish between 13th and 16th place. It is to play the Nelson-L.V. Rogers Bombers today, 9 a.m., at the TCC.

Chris Toporowski had 22 points to lead the Sabres. Brendan Somers scored 23 for the Lions.

The boys semifinals will feature the Mission Roadrunners taking on Mills Bay-Brentwood College, and the Chilliwack-G.W. Graham Grizzlies going up against the Burnaby-St. Thomas More Knights. Those semifinals are at 4 p.m., and 7:30 p.m., at the TCC.

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