Sharks hold off Wildcats

It was yet another nailbiter.

And, again, the Steveston-London Sharks persevered.

On Friday, for the second year in a row, the Sharks held on to edge the R.A. McMath Wildcats for the Richmond high school senior girls’ basketball playoff banner before a packed crowd at Steveston-London Secondary. Grade 11 guard Emily Ip drained a three pointer with under two minutes to play that broke a tie game and enabled the Sharks to emerge with a 52-47 victory. The win gave the Sharks the No. 1 Richmond seed going into this week’s Lower Mainland AAA championships, while the Wildcats settled for the No. 2 seed.

“We played McMath earlier in the year and won by double figures,” said Hamaguchi. “But it was no surprise the final was so close. It may not compare to the Richmond-Steveston rivalry which was the best in the province, but there’s no question there’s a rivalry there and respect for each other’s program.”

The Sharks didn’t shoot particularly well from the field, certainly an Achilles heel for a small, perimeter team like Steveston-London. But they found another way to win by sinking 11 of 12 free throws and getting a few inside baskets as well.

“We just had a bad shooting day and a good foul-shooting day I guess,” said Hamaguchi. “But McMath also employed a good defence (focused on shutting down two of the Sharks’ top shooters, Anmol Mattu and Aliya Prasad) that caused some problems. Fortunately, we got a few points from other kids to fill the void.”

“To win Richmond was great, and to do it against such a respected rival made it even more fun,” said Hamaguchi, who believes his team—while underdogs—is capable of not only making provincials but winning it all.

“Our Achilles’ heel is that we’re not very big or dominating inside the paint, so we have to make up for that somehow,” he explained. “It’s not the ideal way to succeed, but that said if we wake up and feeling good on a particular day we can shoot the lights out.”

The Sharks extended their season Monday, winning their first Lower Mainland zone game 59-53 at Kitsilano. Next up will be a date against the powerhouse North Shore rep, Handsworth Royals, Thursday at 8:15 p.m. at Burnaby South Secondary.

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