The Kalamalka Lakers senior girls basketball team is one high-octane group with a commitment to defence.
Even assistant coach Dean Francks keeps up with the pace as he replaces his daughter, Kristen, the team’s leading scorer, in a team scrimmage as the young lady talks to a reporter about the team’s upcoming appearance in the B.C. AA championships in Langley.
“I’m so excited for the provincials,” said Francks. “We spent all of the COVID year training in gym so getting back to normal and qualifying for one of the best tournaments is beyond great.”
Father Francks, head coach Johnal Lee and the Lakers players earned their spot into the 16-team field at the Langley Events Centre by capturing the Okanagan championship.
Kristen Francks had 19 points, Brooklyn Lewis had 18 and Lily Lee chipped in 17 as Kal dismantled the Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops 98-52 in the Valley final in Summerland.
The Okanagan has only one berth to the provincials and the Lakers are ranked No. 6.
Shirelle Nickoli was effective on the boards at both ends of the court for Kal in the final while Brynn Fixsen contributed offensively and defensively and played a solid game.
The Lakers advanced to the final with an 82-31 romp over Vernon rivals Fulton Maroons. Francks led all scorers with 31 points Olivia Collins had 11 and Lewis and her sister, Sydney, each added eight. Ava Tepper made some key shots while Quinn Taylor and Elaina Masyte were both outstanding on defence.
“This is a special group of girls,” said Lily Lee, 17, a six-foot power forward and one of seven Grade 12 players on the squad. “Most of us have played together since Grade 8 and we all know each other and get along so well. It was great this year, in our final year, to come together as a team and make it to provincials.”
Johnal Lee is a veteran coach in his second year with the senior Lakers. The No. 6 seeding provincially is the highest rated team he’s had going into a provincial tournament.
“This team has a lot of athleticism and the girls have an amazing knack of knowing what each other is going to do and where they’re going to be on the court,” said Coach Lee. “They have a tremendous desire to be competitive.”
The Lakers will open the B.C. AA championships Wednesday, March 2, against the 11th-seeded Lambrick Park Lions of Victoria.
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