Mustangs fall to Agassiz in basketball playoffs

The Hope senior girl's team finishes season with 40-29 loss

Hope senior Mustangs forward Amanda Lancaster evades the check of the Agassiz Chieftans’ Hannah Exley at last Thursday’s league playoff game at Agassiz Elementary-Secondary. The Chieftans prevailed

A basketball free throw is about the same as a club-length putt in golf: a virtual ‘gimme,’ if you’ve got the mechanics all lined up… but there’s still room for failure if you’ve got a case of the yips.

The Hope Secondary senior Mustang girls had a yips outbreak in their playoff game against the Agassiz Chieftans, in Agassiz last Thursday. They went three for 16 chances at the foul line — and the 13 missed points could have been enough to turn the tables on the Chieftains, who had beaten Hope in two close games in single-A league play this year.

“You’ve got to sink your free throws,” said coach Jeff Kuhn on Tuesday. “There’s a reason they call them free. We’re usually in the 50 to 60 per cent range on our foul shots — and Azalia [John] is usually shooting 70 to 80 per cent and I think she went two for 10.”

As well, when the foul shots aren’t going your way, the opposition sees no reason to change their style of play… other than the fear of getting fouled out, said Kuhn.

“They’re not risking anything by putting you on the line.”

Hope got up 4-2 early in the game and was only six points behind in the third quarter but they couldn’t regain the lead, going down 40-29.

“They were running a press on us and we beat it most times,” said Kuhn, “but even when you beat their press, it throws you off your rhythm and makes it so you can’t run your usual offence.

“We’ve got a half court trap that we like to run and it was working well — but we had to stop using it because of foul trouble,” explained Kuhn, the senior pastor at Grace Baptist Church.

Just days after the end of the season, coach Kuhn is already looking ahead to the next campaign.

“Next year’s team will be a little faster,” he said. “We’ve got some players who are good at anticipating passes, so I hope to run a trap and a full court press and run it all game. We’ll have to get in shape, though.”

The Hope-Agassiz rivalry is bound to be contested for the next few years at least, figured Kuhn.

“We’re losing four players and Agassiz is only losing two — and they aren’t starters.

“They’ve also got a P.E. class for boys and girls that is all-basketball throughout the year,” added Kuhn. “I’d like to see that in Hope, too, as there’s only so much you can do as a team in practice. There’s so much more to learn about the game.”

Kuhn is also planting the seeds of basketball in the younger grades, with the Steve Nash Youth Basketball Program that will start on March 31. The program is for grades 4 through 7, with a registration cut-off at 60.

“I really think we’ll be seeing a lot stronger skills in high school ball in the coming years because of the Steve Nash program,” said Kuhn.

Before that happens: parents and players have to get on board and get registered. Kuhn said he is seeing encouraging numbers already.

The full $60 fee covers 16 sessions, including nine practices and seven games. Players also get a Steve Nash reversible jersey, a drawstring bag, a basketball, a Basketball BC membership card and liability insurance coverage.

Local donations have made it possible for Kuhn to offer help on registration costs, to those who need it. You just have to ask.

Registration will close on March 14. People can pick up and drop off registration forms/payment at Silver Creek Elementary, CE Barry Middle School, or Coquihalla Elementary.  They can also download registration forms from the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/HopeSNYB/

Kuhn can be reached at 604-869-1349, or by e-mail at jeff@gbchope.com.

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