Wildcats advance to BC final four

McMath will face Okanagan-Mission on Friday afternoon in Langley

It’s mission accomplished for the McMath senior girls basketball team.

The seven-time Richmond champions are guaranteed a top four finish at the inaugural BC 3A Championships at the Langley Events Centre after holding off the MEI Eagles 60-58 in Thursday quarter-final action.

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The Wildcats will meet the Kelowna’s Okanagan-Mission Huskies on Friday (3:15 p.m.) in a battle of the tournament’s No. 3 and No. 2 seeds respectively. 

“We are guaranteed top four now and it’s been our goal for a long time,” said co-coach Jamie Kippan. “We will lay it all on the line now and see what happens.”

After dominating the city and zone championships then rolling 82-36 past Courtenay’s Mark Isfeld in the opening round on Wednesday, the Wildcats were facing their first quality opponent in about a month and it showed in the early going.

They trailed 16-10 after one quarter and struggled much of the game to find their groove offensively, shooting just 22.5 percent from the field.

They wrestled the lead away from the No. 6 Eagles thanks to a 21-8 third quarter and did enough down the stretch to hold off a comeback bid from the Abbotsford school. 

A three-pointer from Grade 10 Kee Hohlweg and a basket from Caitlin Kippan were key moments, as were Liz Kennedy’s clutch free throws with 10 seconds remaining.

The difference between the two teams was McMath going 20-of-27 from the charity stripe. Leading the way was Kennedy going 9-for-11 and scoring a team-high 18 points. 

The Eagles were paying plenty of attention to Marina Radocaj but the 6-foot-2 Grade 9 standout still managed 17 points and 15 rebounds.

“We haven’t had a game like this in a long time and as coaches we were a little bit worried that in a tight game we maybe would panic a little. But the girls dug deep and found a way to win,” added Kippan.

“They are a good team and did what they needed to do against us by doubling down inside and it was hard for us to get any good looks.

“We hit our free throws in the fourth quarter when we needed to and got the little bits and pieces at the right time.”

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