There was no way Tayla Jackson was leaving the court.
Jackson, playing in her final high school game, had a small cut on her hand and some blood on her shorts.
Her team, the Brookswood Bobcats, were up against Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Hawks in the B.C. 3A senior girls championship final on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre.
But a player cannot have blood on their jersey or shorts, so without hesitation, Jackson whipped off her shorts in plain view of the thousands who packed the LEC, and quickly exchanged uniform bottoms with teammate Emily MacDonald.
With new shorts and some tape covering the wound, Jackson was back on the court by the time her W.J. Mouat opponent had taken the second of her two free throws. And she was there when the final buzzer sounded a few minutes later and the Brookswood Secondary students stormed the floor to celebrate their school’s 60-48 victory, the second consecutive year the ’Cats had claimed the prize.
“I was not coming out of that game,” said a smiling Jackson, who is off to the University California Irvine next year on scholarship.
“I whipped them off before I even had anyone’s shorts. That’s the true test of a teammate, who is willing to whip off their shorts for you the fastest.”
Jackson finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals.
The final was a match-up of the two top seeds in the tournament as No. 1 Brookswood had beaten No. 2 Mouat in overtime of the Fraser Valley championship game two weeks ago.
It was also the fifth meeting between the Fraser Valley rivals, with Brookswood winning the final four.
And after the ’Cats jumped out to an 18-10 lead in the first quarter, Mouat took control, scoring 20 of the next 31 points to lead 30-29 at the half.
The Hawks would score the first basket of the second half to lead 32-29 — their biggest lead of the night — before the Brookswood defence shut them down.
Entering the game, Mouat was averaging 70 points per game over their first three contests at the provincial championships.
But the Bobcats held them to 18 points over the final 20 minutes.
“I don’t know what happened but in the fourth quarter we went cold,” said Mouat assistant coach Tara Burton.
“We didn’t take advantage of good looks around the hoop and they burned us.”
“They finally started to listen to the defensive plan,” said Brookswood coach Neil Brown.
“They tend to think they have better ideas than me — they usually do — but tonight we said ‘if you do what we ask you and we lose, it’s on us. But if you do what you want and we lose, it’s on you.’
“That was the halftime talk.”
Brookswood would lead 46-40 after three quarters and never look back. A big difference in the game was three-point shooting as the Hawks hit just three shots from beyond the arc while the ’Cats hit eight, five of which were in the second half.
Aislinn Konig led the Bobcats with 26 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals.
She was the player of the game, the tournament’s top defensive player, and for the second straight year, the most outstanding player. Konig still has one year of high school remaining.
“I am going to need a bigger mantle now,” Konig laughed.
“That’s nuts, I never thought it would get this big when I started. It is really amazing.”
Konig was hampered by the fact she had four fouls and knew one more would disqualify her from the biggest game of the season.
“I was definitely more cognizant that I had to stand back (on defence),” she said. “I tried to hold back but I probably did some stupid things too.”
While the offence was led by the ’Cats big three of Konig, Jackson and Louise Forsyth, it was others stepping up which provided the difference.
“The difference was probably our role players, Amanda (Boettcher) and Julia (Marshall),” Konig said.
“They don’t always get the recognition they deserve, but they do a lot for us.
“They played hard and hit some big shots and that was the differentiating factor for us.”
Jackson was named a first team all-star while Marshall was a second team all-star.
Boettcher, Marshall and Forsyth, who are in Grades 12, 11 and 10, respectively, were with the team last year when they won provincials, but were bigger factors in this year’s squad.
“It is honestly phenomenal. I cannot explain what is going through my mind,” Boettcher said.
“It doesn’t feel real right now, I am in shock.”
“It just feels great, knowing all the hard work we put in paid off,” Forsyth said.
“I can’t even explain how amazing it feels,” Marshall added.
The ’Cats rely heavily on their starting five as they played the full 40 minutes the night before in the team’s 64-50 win over Oak Bay in the semifinals and all 40 in the championship final.
Brown said the fact Konig, Forsyth and Marshall are all cross-country runners really helped them.
Making things harder for Jackson was the fact she hadn’t practised since the Fraser Valley final after suffering a concussion.
“This whole tournament was tough for me personally,” she said.
“Coming off a concussion, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to take two weeks off before provincials.
“The adrenalin kicks in; you just keep going, because you just want it.”