The Charles Hays Secondary School junior girls basketball team is heading back to provincials after beating the Hazelton Mystics in the northwest zone finals on Feb. 10.
A large crowd was present in the CHSS gym where the junior Rainmakers overcame a slow start to score an impressive 61-32 victory.
“The girls are happy,” said head coach Sonny Henry. “They did a good job today.”
Nerves were evident in the two teams’ play at the beginning of the game as both sides struggled to score in the first quarter. The Rainmakers were able to score on some inside baskets thanks to Dannica Budskin, who was strong in the low post, scoring eight points and hitting a free throw to help CHSS build a 14-6 lead.
Henry said the team was trying to avoid foul trouble by slowing the pace down.
“We said ‘We’d let the game come to us and play straight up basketball’,” Henry said. “Once we got it rolling, we didn’t stop.”
In the second quarter, the Raimakers were able to extend their lead behind strong shooting from Kristy Innes who scored nine points, including two three-pointers, which helped the team extend its lead to 33-19.
A strong defensive effort in the third and fourth quarters helped the Rainmakers maintain firm control of the game. The team held the Mystics to six and seven points respectively in the quarters, and they pulled away to win comfortably by 29 points.
Innes, who finished with 22 points, was named MVP of the tournament. Henry said Innes’s play on the floor and leadership was a major reason why the team was able to succeed this season.
“Everything that you guys and the other team sees is because of the work that she’s put in since she was a little kid,” he said. “That MVP was well deserved because she put in a lot of work this weekend.”
Budskin and Payton Henry also received all-star honours for the tournament.
The team now shifts its focus to the provincial championships, which will take place in Langley at the end of February. Henry said while his team knows they have a big challenge ahead of them, they are fully prepared to meet it head-on.
“For us, if we’re in the gym and we’re doing what we gotta do, then when it comes to provincials, we’re hoping that it shows when we’re down there,” he said. “The work is not done.”