Hyacks clear first hurdle in playoffs

Among all the goals set before the start of the season, getting into the regional tournament was near the top.

Put it down as done for the New Westminster senior girls Hyacks basketball team.

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On the strength of Tuesday's 60-53 win over the Burnaby Mountain Lions in the league playoff opener, the New West squad has guaranteed itself a top-five finish in the Burnaby-New West league playoffs.

Of course, what they accomplish Wednesday night (past the Record deadline) will be like icing on the cake.

"It was a pretty nice win, just to clinch a berth (to the Fraser North zone playoffs)," remarked Hyacks coach Roger Hamerton.

While New West held the lead most of the night, Burnaby Mountain kept it close, never falling beyond 12 points and staying within a quick run of tying the game.

"It was back and forth for a lot of the time," noted Hamerton. "They pressed us and gave us a good workout. But we held them off fairly well."

Led by Grade 11 Anja Tjernagel, who scored 25 points, and Grade 10 Claire Haffner, with 17, New West rebounded from a two-game league losing streak that saw them outscored 172-112.

The losses also coincided with the loss of guard Kanon Imachi, the team's senior guard who achieved early graduation two weeks ago.

One of the few holdovers from the 2017-18 Hyacks who made the provincials, Imachi had been a reliable steady influence, especially on defence.

"(Imachi) was very good at a defensive press. She was a good calming influence," said Hamerton. "The first couple of games without her we had to make a lot of adjustments."

It's provided more opportunities for a pair of Grade 10s -- Ayanna Seymour and Haffner -- to get more floor time, he noted.

"(Haffner) played the whole game and really has made a contribution in rebounding, our second chance and fast break," said Hamerton. "(Seymour) has stepped in and helped with our defensive press and picked up more minutes."

New West played regular season champion Burnaby Central on Wednesday in one semfinal, in a rematch of a late January pairing that saw the Wildcats roll to an 88-44 decision.

In the other semifinal, Burnaby North took on second-place Burnaby South.

The league final goes Friday, 7 p.m. at Burnaby Central.


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