The Glenlawn Lions varsity girls basketball team had the most upsets, the biggest post, the best cheer song and now, it has its first provincial title in six years.
Led by 6-foot-5 Emily Potter’s 23 points and 25 rebounds, Glenlawn defeated the Oak Park Raiders 54-42 to win the girls’ title at the 2012 Milk AAAA Provincial High School Basketball Championships at the University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre on Monday night.
The No. 4-seed Lions, who even had Dancin’ Gabe cheering for them as Glenlawn is his old school, upset the fifth-seed Sisler Spartans, No. 1 Westwood Warriors and the No. 2 Raiders to win their first title since 2005-06.
"It means so much to us, it was a big comeback for us, and all those fans here were such great support," said Glenlawn Grade 12 guard Kiara Hazell, who scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds and was named to the all-star team.
In the boys’ championship, the top-seed Garden City Fighting Gophers defeated the third-seed John Taylor Pipers 71-61. The Gophers, who had lost in last year’s final and last won with back-to-back titles in 2008-09, went on a 10-0 run late in the second quarter to take the lead for the first time and held it down the stretch.
"It’s so great, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time and the same with all those (Gophers) guys over there. It feels amazing," said Gophers Grade 12 guard Andre Arruda-Welch, who led all players with 30 points and 12 rebounds. Josh Magpantay, named MVP, had 19 points and Tynan Reyes scord 18. "It was crazy, we just kept working hard, with heart and passion and we knew it would all figure itself out."
The Pipers got 17 points from Aaron Allarie and 16 from Brett Jewell, who was named to the all-star team.
In the girls’ game, the Raiders struck first on the scoreboard opening with a pair of three-point buckets by Jenilyn Monton, but were in trouble after that.
The Lions roared back on a 17-0 run, going inside lobbing ball after ball to 6-foot-5 Potter, who dutifully dumped them into the bucket. It was 17-9 and it was too much for the Raiders to make up.
Once the fans got singing what appears to be their trademark cheer song, "I believe our team will win," the Raiders were battling the electric atmosphere their fans created as well as the Lions.
At halftime, the Grade 11 Potter had 12 points and 13 rebounds, almost as many as the Raiders’ entire team. "She was huge for us, she got 20-something rebounds and she’s done that for us all season," said Glenlawn head coach Bryan Kornberger. "Everybody played their roll on the team and that’s what helped us win. Cece (Celecia Luckwell), our captain, her baskets on penetration in the first half were huge in getting us the lead and holding off the tide."
Oak Park took plenty of shots that just didn’t drop but were hurt most by a lack of rebounds. The Lions hauled in 37 defensive rebounds and turned many of those into key transition buckets.
"We knew how bad we wanted it. It’s just overwhelming," said Luckwell, who scored 13 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. "With Emily’s height and our speed, we utilized everyone really well and I think that was a key."
For the Raiders, it was the third straight year Oak Park had a team in the final only to come away without a title.
"I’m really proud of the girls, we gave up 17 straight points in the first quarter but we didn’t let it get us down, the girls never quit," said Oak Park head coach Murray Brown, whose team was led by Monton with 13 points. "We had great looks but sometimes the ball just wasn’t dropping in the hoop for us."
In the boys’ final, the Pipers had dug the Gophers into 25-19 hole when the Gophers comeback began. Andre Arruda-Welch took over the game, scoring four straight buckets to put the Gophers ahead. The Pipers lost starting post Boris Zimbakov in the first half with a leg injury.
The girls’ all-star team included Westwood’s Lauren Anderson, Hazell and Potter of Glenlawn along with Kerilynn MacLennan and Monton from Oak Park. The boys’ all-stars were Kristjan Lamont of Kelvin, Malik Irwin of St. Pauls. Brett Jewell and Kuet Kuet of John Taylor and Arruda-Welch from Garden City.