Hyacks shake off holiday rust

As the schedule starts to ramp up in the lead-up to next month’s playoffs, the New Westminster senior girls Hyacks are hoping momentum is on their side.

The squad kick-started the post-holiday break with a pair of polished Burnaby-New West league victories, including Monday’s 58-38 win over the Moscrop Panthers.

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And with a lineup that a good blend of youth – four Grade 11s and five Grade 10s – and just one player who played senior ball before, the Hyacks could use any bit of momentum they can get.

“We had a bit of a slow start, but it’s literally the first week after the break, so we expected some rust,” remarked head coach Roger Hamerton. “(Moscrop) came out attacking with a 1-3-1 zone, something we haven’t seen before.”

It may have been a new situation for the squad, but after a few moments to study the situation, they handled it well, he said.

“We had to take a few moments to adjust, but once we got on the same page we kind of found our footing.”

Up 21-15 at halftime, New West broke the game open – after the teams combined for just 15 points in the second quarter – with 22 points in the third frame. Topping the charts was Grade 11 guard Anja Tjernagel, while Grade 12 veteran Kanon Imachi – the lone player from the lineup that made the 2018 provincials – counted 18 points. Both players, plus Costanza Sandrini, had seven steals each.

Last week, New West topped Byrne Creek 68-16, with Adit Biar, Emma Gruger, Imachi and Tjernagel hitting double digits.

The Hyacks now own a 4-1 league record, averaging just over 61 points per game. Of course, the main area where improvement has to come, Hamerton said, is on the defensive side of the ledger.

“For us, the big area where we could improve the most is turnovers. We’re making progress, the girls are getting a good feel for (the game plan), but we need to cut down the turnovers,” he said.

As far as chemistry is concerned, the squad has bonded well despite the different ages and the lack of a strong returning core – New West didn’t field a senior girls program last year.

“They are getting use to each other, their assignments on the court. When someone is cutting to the basket, they could communicate a bit better, but it’s coming. Everyone has to be talking,” Hamerton said.

The team is slated to play in the Collingwood tournament next week, before returning home to play Alpha on Jan. 27.

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