Hawks survive scare vs. Carson Graham

After the W.J. Mouat Hawks set a new single-game scoring record for the provincial AAA girls basketball championship on Wednesday, few pundits would have predicted they'd be pushed to the brink of elimination the very next day.

Katie Brink and the W.J. Mouat Hawks staved off an upset bid from the Carson Graham Eagles on Thursday at the AAA high school girls basketball provincials.

Katie Brink and the W.J. Mouat Hawks staved off an upset bid from the Carson Graham Eagles on Thursday at the AAA high school girls basketball provincials.

After the W.J. Mouat Hawks set a new single-game scoring record for the provincial AAA girls basketball championship on Wednesday, few pundits would have predicted they’d be pushed to the brink of elimination the very next day.But that’s precisely the harrowing scenario the Hawks found themselves in on Thursday afternoon. With just over six minutes remaining in their provincial quarter-final matchup with the Carson Graham Eagles at Capilano University, the top-seeded Hawks were in a deep hole, trailing 59-50. But with their championship hopes on life support, the Hawks’ high-octane attack ignited in the waning minutes. Mouat finished the game on a torrid 22-0 run, en route to a 72-59 victory. They move on to the semifinals, where they face South Kamloops (Friday, 7 p.m., Capilano University). “I’ve never wanted anything in my life more than this championship, and (losing) was not an option,” said Hawks guard Jaslyen Singh, who hit a pivotal three-pointer to help shift the momentum Mouat’s way. “We came together, and I couldn’t have asked for more from my teammates.”Carson Graham, a relatively unheralded squad from North Vancouver which came into the tournament seeded No. 9, gave the Hawks fits from the start. It certainly helped the Eagles’ cause that Kayli Sartori, Mouat’s superstar forward, picked up two quick fouls, paving the way for Carson Graham to build a 20-14 lead after the first quarter.The Hawks opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run, and all seemed right with the world. But Carson Graham just wouldn’t quit – they battled back to cut Mouat’s lead to 31-30 at the break.The Eagles came out on fire to start the third quarter, putting together a 15-5 run, and they nursed that lead well into the fourth. But in a spot where some teams might be prone to panic, the Hawks cobbled together a stirring rally to stave off a massive upset.”In our huddles, we got together and kind of calmed each other down,” Singh said. “We all wanted it so bad.”The Hawks were coming off a record-breaking 116-17 victory over the Prince George Polars in Wednesday’s opening round, and Mouat coach Paula Thompson felt her team’s early struggles Thursday had a lot to do with playing out of control offensively.”We got overzealous,” she analyzed. “We were making these long bomb, cross-court passes, which we don’t usually do.”We broke out of a lot of what we do today . . . But in all honesty, we did wear them down when it came right down to it.”Sartori paced the Hawks with 25 points, 14 rebounds and nine steals, while Katie Brink (21 points) and Singh (15) made major offensive contributions.Carson Graham centre Kolbi Roper led the upset bid with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Free throw shooting was ultimately the Eagles’ undoing – they shot just 3-for-21 from the free throw line, compared to Mouat’s 17-for-29.