– With files from Wawmeesh G. Hamilton
The Spectrum Thunder were a surprise finalist at the 2011 Vancouver Island senior girls’ AAA high school basketball championships in Port Alberni on Saturday.
Despite all their hard work, Spectrum were not ready for the Claremont Spartans, who defeated them 100-34 in the final. It was Claremont’s second straight Island title.
As the south’s bottom seed, Spectrum got to the final with two big upsets, knocking off the north’s top seed Dover Bay, 68-45, and then Oak Bay, 70-66.
In two games against Dover Bay this year Spectrum won twice, but that wasn’t the case with Oak Bay, against whom Spectrum dropped both league games.
It looked like Oak Bay was going to win the semifinal, too.
“We were down nine points against Oak Bay and pulled it out,” Spectrum coach Tim Carlson said.
“(Oak Bay) were ahead most of the game until we came back in the final minutes on three pointers and free throws.”
A big part of Spectrum’s success is Lauren Yearwood, the 6-foot-2 post, still in Grade 8.
“The best thing about Yearwood isn’t just her composure and skill, which are great for her age, but her maturity,” Carlson said.
“Yearwood’s held her own all year against kids four years older than her. She takes her lumps out there and keeps going.”
Spectrum was game to compete in the final, but were no match for the Spartan juggernaut.
“Claremont are head and shoulders above everybody else, (it worked to our favour) we didn’t have to meet them until the finals,” Carlson said.
While Spectrum are a younger team, perhaps a year or two away from their peak as an Island contender, the Spartans resumed their reign as a top four team in B.C.
Spartan’s Shaylyn Crisp led all scorers in the final with 35 points, taking player of the game honours. Right behind her was Shalie Dheensaw with 22 points.
Claremont took a commanding 55-26 lead at the half and didn’t look back. Their air-tight defense smothered the Thunder, who only scored four points in the second half.
The Spartans’ offense dodged different defensive schemes and scored another 45 points in the second half.
Spectrum’s Marine Low and Emma Cunningham led the Thunder with 11 points and eight points respectively, as their team was nominated the most sportsmanlike of the tournament.
In their first two games Claremont beat GP Vanier, 109-35, and Stelly’s, 80-47.
In the third-fourth place match-up, the Oak Bay Breakers beat the Dover Bay Dolphins 78-44. Breakers’ guard Linden Turner scored 22 points and was named player of the game.
Dheenshaw named MVP
Dheenshaw’s impressive play under the hoop earned her the tournament’s most valuable player award.
Spartans Crisp and Jordis Wachter were named to the tournament’s first all-star team with Stelly’s Rhea Ashmead and Spectrum’s Lauren Yearwood.
Melissa Van Dyk (Claremont), Low and Cunningham (Spectrum), Turner and Jill Cooper (Oak Bay) were named to the second all star team.
Claremont and Spectrum advance to the AAA provincial championships, March 9-12 at Capilano College. Third place Oak Bay played a challenge game against Elgin Park on Tuesday for the final Island spot at provincials.
Claremont, first; Spectrum, second; Oak Bay, third: Dover Bay, fourth; Ballenas, fifth; Stelly’s, sixth; Alberni, seventh; GP Vanier, eighth.