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Lawlor earns MVP as Charlottetown Rural defeats Three Oaks
Once the Charlottetown Rural Raiders got on a roll Tuesday, they couldn’t be stopped.
The Raiders trailed the Three Oaks Axewomen 3-2 about 2 ½ minutes into the Prince Edward Island School Athletic Association Domino’s senior AAA girls’ basketball championship game before going on a 11-0 run.
They held quarter leads of 15-5, 28-14 and 53-26 to cruise to a 61-39 victory at UPEI.
“I’m shaking right now. It’s really exciting,” said Amy Plaggenhoef, a 15-year-old Stratford native.
The Grade 10 student didn’t show any nerves during the game, scoring 12 first half points, including draining two treys.
“It’s a real confidence booster,” Plaggenhoef said of hitting the early shots.
She finished with a game-high 18 points while Grade 11 Devon Lawlor contributed 16 points and Grade 10 Jaelyn Power chipped in 10 in the victory.
The Raiders have relied on their outside shooting all season and when the shots weren’t falling early, there was no panic.
“We’ve seen it before,” head coach Peter Lawlor said. “The girls know what to expect.”
Lawlor said Plaggenhoef was extremely important early on as the Axewomen keyed on Devon Lawlor by taking the lane away. It forced the ball out of her hands and into teammates like Plaggenhoef.
The head coach said he was very happy for all his players who worked really hard all season long towards the team’s goal.
“Every practice, every drill, every game, every tournament we (went) to was really about preparing us for this game,” he said. “This was our ultimate goal and today we achieved it.”
It wasn’t easy.
The team dealt with its fair share of adversity this season
“It hit us right off the bat when we found out on Day 1 that our point guard would be out for the year,” Lawlor said.
Sydney Whitlock, a Grade 12 student, tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The team didn’t use injuries as an excuse and different players rose to the occasion at different times of the season.
“We rarely played back-to-back games with the same lineup but that’s a credit to the girls,” Lawlor said. “They all worked hard, and they all stepped up and filled voids when they needed to.”
Some missed shots, poor free throw shooting early and unforced turnovers hurt the Axewomen. Three Oaks head coach Garth Turtle said his squad wasn’t nervous, but the Raiders were more intense than the Axewomen.
“We’re not used to that intensity and when they really turned it up a little bit, we couldn't match it,” he said, but “I’m really pleased with how hard we worked.”
Jordan Power led Three Oaks with 10 points while Lauren Lilly added seven and Paige Campbell hauled in 14 rebounds.
While championship teams are traditionally dominated by veteran Grade 12s, the Raiders had five Grade 10s who played lots and will return the provincial tournament MVP in Devon Lawlor next season as a Grade 12.
“I’m very excited about next year,” Lawlor said. “We made a conscious effort from Day 1 that everybody was going to play big minutes because we’re going to need everybody throughout the year, and we did.”
Turtle has four Grade 12s on his squad but noted Summerside intermediate has done a good job of providing a steady stream of good players for its program.
The Raiders won all nine of its league and playoff games, finishing 12-10 on the season.
“We tried to get into the best tournaments we could,” Lawlor said. “We tried to play the best teams we could, and we took our lumps in games, but it made us a better team and prepared us for this game.”
A look at the award winners from the Prince Edward Island School Athletic Association Domino’s senior AAA girls’ basketball tournament.
Mackayla Vos, Bluefield.
Sydney Strain, Colonel Gray.
Devon Lawlor, Charlottetown Rural.
Lauren Lilly, Three Oaks.
Amy Plaggenhoef, Charlottetown Rural.
Devon Lawlor, Charlottetown Rural.