On their home court, the Dawson Creek senior girls’ basketball team wanted to prove they were more than just a fourth seed entering the ‘AAA’ zone finals.
With a win over Correlieu and a near upset over North Peace, the girls did just that, placing third overall.
“We set our bar for third and I think we should of even been in second,” said Penguins’ point guard Sydney Sandness on Saturday following her team’s 44-34 loss to second seed North Peace Secondary, which eliminated the Pens’ from the tournament.
After a first-round loss on Thursday to the heavily favoured Prince George Polars, Dawson Creek returned on Friday afternoon with a 45-42 victory against the Correlieu Clan of to stay alive.
With hundreds of students and school faculty cheering them on, the Pens’ held off a late Correlieu comeback to ensure a spot in the semifinals versus rival North Peace.
“They [Clan] gave us some troubles because they are a good team,” said Pens’ head coach Emily Rivard, “they are a tough but I knew we could beat them.”
Kelsey Ginter’s 17 points, including seven in the third quarter, helped the Penguins to 41-32 lead with just 10 minutes left; but a 10-2 run in the fourth by the Clan drew them to within two at 43-41 as the seconds ticked off the clock.
A last-minute hoop by senior Danelle Gibson made it a two-possession game at 45-41, as the Clan were able to score single free throw before time ran out.
Against North Peace, the Pens’, however, ran out of steam down the stretch, giving NPSS a meeting in the finals with the mighty Polars.
DCSS led by as much five points midway through the second half, but foul trouble cost them the match as both Sandness and Gibson sat down with five fouls, leaving it up to an already short benched Penguins team to hold off the Ooks.
NPSS would go on to outscore the Pens’ 15-4 to close out the match at 44-34.
“Once we ran into foul trouble, it got to our team mentally and everyone started to break down,” said Sandness who has been with the team since her junior year and ended her career being named to the tournament all-star team.
“I think we played extremely well all weekend. We missed our shots against PGSS but against North Peace we played the hardest game we’ve ever played in our life.”
NPSS assistant coach Rob Sandberg said the NPSS and DCSS rivalry shone through when the two teams met, calling it the “game of the weekend.”
“The only difference was our bench size,” he explained. “We had a strong bench that came out and stepped up and they didn’t have that to help them out.”
After battling it out with Dawson Creek, North Peace fell short in the finals, but not without a strong effort from starting point guard Pamela Sandberg.
The NPSS’s all-star had 17 points to lead all scorers but didn’t get the help she needed from her supporting cast against a tough PGSS team.
The defending champion Polars used their height and strong guard play en route to a 77-37 championship win.
“They [Polars] have a strong team that has played together a lot of years. It was hard to beat their chemistry,” said Sandberg. “They also had a full day break, where as we had to come through with an extra game against Dawson Cree – so our girls were tired out.”
“All season we’ve been stressing to them about practice and being prepared and it showed here. When it came down to the crunch time and we were in the tight games they held it together - nobody lost their composure.”