Hawks lock it down on defence to punch provincial ticket
After a one-year absence, the W.J. Mouat Hawks are going back to the B.C. AAA senior girls basketball championship.
The Hawks punched their ticket on Tuesday, staging an impressive rally in the Fraser Valley quarter-finals to stun the Fleetwood Park Dragons in their own gym by a score of 60-48.
The No. 5-seeded Hawks had lost two of their three games this season vs. No. 4 Fleetwood Park, and they struggled in the first half on Tuesday as the Surrey squad built a 10-point lead at the break.
Mouat dug in during the third quarter, though, smothering the Dragons' sharpshooters on the perimeter and taking a one-point lead into the fourth. It was more of the same in the final frame, as the Hawks stretched the lead to double digits.
The victory secured one of the Fraser Valley's four automatic berths to provincials, which run March 6-9 at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).
"They shoot the ball really well," Mouat coach Tara Burton said of Fleetwood Park. "But we made some adjustments defensively.
"The girls were working so hard on defence in the third quarter, and it totally turned things around for us. We started switching screens and making shooters go around us. There were no easy shots for them in that second half."
The Hawks were led offensively by their sibling duo in the post, Carmelle and Penielle M'Bikata, who scored 20 and 12 points, respectively. Amber Beasley (10 points) and Meldina Hadzovic (eight points) also chipped in.
The Hawks won the provincial AAA girls title in 2011, but after the core of that team graduated, they failed to qualify for the B.C.'s in 2012.
"Our preseason goal was to get to provincials this year after a disappointing season last year," said Burton , whose team won the Abby Police City Tournament back in December. "The girls are elated, but I think they realize now that the sky is the limit at provincials – anyone can beat anyone. They're fired up."
The Hawks will face the top-seeded Brookswood Bobcats in the Valley semifinals at 6 p.m. on Friday at the LEC.
EAGLES, LIONS LOSE SECOND-ROUND GAMES
The other two Abbotsford AAA girls squads in the mix both sustained blowout defeats on Tuesday, but they're still alive in the hunt for a provincial berth.
The No. 8-seeded Yale Lions fell 96-48 to Brookswood, while the No. 6 MEI Eagles dropped a 73-34 decision to the No. 3 Maple Ridge Ramblers.
Both local teams play Thursday, and if they win those games to assure themselves top-eight finishes in the Valley tourney, they will have a chance to play a wild card game vs. a team from another zone for a spot at provincials.
Thursday's consolation-side games run at Fleetwood Park. MEI faces the Centennial Centaurs at 4:15 p.m., while Yale takes on Lord Tweedsmuir at 6 p.m.