Hyacks finish 12th at AAA hoop championship
As Ariana Sider fell to the ground with a thud, so did the New Westminster Hyacks’ high hopes for a top eight finish at the AAA B.C. senior girls high school basketball championship last week.
Late in the second quarter of their tournament opener against Abbotsford’s Yale Lions, Sider was driving to the hoop when three Yale players converged on her. Sider stretched out but as she came down off balance she hit the side of her head on the floor, said Hyacks coach Doug Woodward.
Yale was leading 35-10 with Sider shooting 1-for-9 from the field. The Lions, ranked ninth in the province heading into the tournament while the Hyacks were seventh, went on to a 72-36 victory.
“When you lose your point guard, that’s the most important position on the team, and we really didn’t have another true point guard to take over at Ariana’s level,” said Woodward this week.
“We missed so many layups. At the beginning of the game we should have been ahead. We missed everything early on. Nothing went in. Ariana missed about three layups.
“They were still a good team and they put it to us.”
The Hyacks went on to finish 12th in the tournament. On Thursday, they rebounded by beating the Prince George Polars 74-57 with Miriam Ali collecting 24 points. On Friday they were edged 52-51 by Coquitlam’s Gleneagle Talons with New West’s Jaylen Conlan missing a field goal attempt on the game’s final play. Ali led the Hyacks with 19 points.
“It was a lot of missed assignments that we did wrong,” said Woodward.
In Saturday’s battle for 11th place, the Oak Bay Breakers downed NWSS 76-43.
At the start of the game, Woodward started all five of the team’s Grade 12 players, including Sider, since it was their final game in a Hyack uniform.
Woodward said the plan was if New West won the opening tipoff they would throw the ball out of bounds so Sider could come out. If they lost it, they were to foul. It turned out Sider got the ball off the jump and dribbled it out of bounds.
Once Oak Bay realized what had happened, in a spirit of good sportsmanship, the Breakers passed it to the Hyacks when it was inbounded.
Woodward inserted Sider into the lineup with 33 seconds left in the game and, in a classy move with the game already decided, Oak Bay allowed her to dribble along the sideline until the clock ran out.
Sider, who will join Simon Fraser University’s women’s team next season, is fine but will have to take some time off, said Woodward.
The Hyacks finished the season with a 24-10 record. Woodward wondered if his troops peaked too early in January because they didn’t seem to improve after that.
“We just got stale and that hurt us a little bit,” said Woodward. “I told the kids we had five minds playing out there. We didn’t play as one. We were just off synch.”
Another Hyack star in the making, Amanda Zacharuk, an under-15 provincial player last year, also suffered a knee injury against Gleneagle and will need surgery.
Woodward hopes to build next year’s squad around Ali, Zacharuk and Kelsey Longran.
“We’ll be small but we’ll be fast. And we’ll just press,” he said. “We didn’t do a good job defensively this year. We’ve got to be more physical like Brookswood, Riverside, and York House, aggressive on defence and go after them.Physically we got beat up every time. If we can get to that level next year we’ll be fine.”
Woodward also said the Hyacks, who have gone to four consecutive provincial championships and nine in the last 11 years, will have their work cut out for them in the Burnaby/New Westminster zone because Burnaby South is a big team that will have all of their players coming back.