They came out on top as hosts, making sure that every one of the seven visiting teams went home with at least one win.
Unfortunately, that meant putting all the others ahead of themselves, as the Hope senior Mustang girls finished in the final spot at their basketball tournament last weekend. The girls met Fraser Lake in their first game at 2 p.m. on Friday and coach Jeff Kuhn said the large crowd of HSS students might have given his girls the jitters. Thanks to the efforts of leadership teacher, Lenora Poulin and her class, students were able to “buy” themselves out of the last class of the day by bringing an item for the local food bank. The other part of the buy out was to head to the gym to support the home team.
“I think the girls were a bit nervous, playing in front of the student body,” said Kuhn. “It was their first home game of the year and Fraser Lake jumped up to an early 8-1 lead.
“They were killing us with their fast break,” said Kuhn of the northern team that only had two spares on the bench.
Spurred on by Azalia John’s tenacity (and 15 points) Hope closed the gap, to trail by 30-25 at the end of the third quarter — but Fraser Lake pulled away for an easy win.
Hope met their local rivals, Agassiz, later in the evening and it was a tight game throughout.
“We were up 20-19 at the half and 34-30 at the end of the third,” said Kuhn.
“With 13 seconds left, they were ahead by one point and we pulled a desperation foul to get back possession… but the girl scored both free throws and we lost by three.
“I think we’ll beat them in a league game,” figured Kuhn. “Azalia John had 22 points for us. When she’s on, she really produces.”
Opposing coaches picked the player-of-the-game for Hope’s three matches, with players receiving T-shirts custom printed by Sasquatch Signs. Mina Kim got the nod in the first game, John in the Agassiz tilt and Madison Kuhn in the Saturday game against the Delta Pacers.
“That was a very discouraging loss,” said Kuhn of the last game. “We came out a bit flat — and our shooting was very poor. Reid [Nickerson] keeps track of the shooting percentage and we were at six per cent success in the third quarter.
“It improved to 42 per cent in the last quarter, so that was good,” said the coach. “And even when we were down by 20, the girls just kept giving ‘er. I’m always impressed with our character. Azalia had 22 points in each of the last two games.”
Kuhn found that the Mustangs had trouble playing against zone defences, as opposed to the man-to-man that Agassiz was playing.
“When it’s zone defence, we have too much of one person dribbling and the rest standing still. We need to get the other team moving, so one of them will hopefully mess up and give us an opening.”
Mission Secondary edged out the Similkameen Sparks in an exciting championship final.
Athletic director, Alicia Dubois, will be looking forward to the Christmas break, after a jam-packed week that included the girls’ tournament and two days of hosting league games and the alumni game this week.
“There was a lot of positive feedback from parents, coaches, and officials regarding the tournament,” said Dubois. “Many coaches expressed their desire to come back next year. One coach told me, ‘You know, I am taking notes. We’re hosting a tournament in a couple of weeks and I am impressed with how this one was organized.’
“We were filled up this year by mid October and there were at least 12 additional teams who asked to join but couldn’t because it was full,” said Dubois, who appreciated all the assistance she got in hosting the event.
“Without the help of the many volunteers, this tournament would not have been possible. Thank you for all of your help and continued support.
“We would love to have more people from the community coming out to watch the games and showing their school spirit,” added Dubois, “so mark it in your calendars. Jan. 10 and 11 are the dates for our upcoming senior boys’ Hoopfest tournament.
“It’s free to watch, so come on out with your families for a little fun and entertainment. We will also be running a ‘buy-out’ for this tournament, so it would be great if you can donate non-perishable food items for our local food bank, or help support our athletics program through monetary donations, though donations will not be required for entry.”