If youre a shooter, the heat check in basketball is one of the sports most exciting moments.
It means youre already hot and, by tossing up a shot you have no business taking or making, youre checking to see just how scorching you are.
Jenna Ralston of the Capilano Blues womens team had the pleasure of firing up a heat check against the Langara Falcons during their Pacwest matchup Jan. 27 in Vancouver.
Already on her way to a historic night of scoring, Ralston took a swing pass on the wing with a defender bearing down on her and a teammate wide open under the basket. Knowing a pass would almost certainly lead to two points, she instead fired up the three.
I thought I just had enough time to get it off, Ralston told the North Shore News later as she recalled the play. Our post was wide open under the hoop but I was feeling it so I just decided to shoot it. If I did miss then the post would get the rebound.
No need for rebounding swish.
As Ralstons performance unfolded, Capilano head coach Paul Chiarenza resisted all urges to look at the stat tally his assistant coach was taking even though he knew Ralston was making some history.
I personally dont ever want to think, or mention, somebodys stats during games, he said. Its a superstition of mine. . . . I knew it was high but I worry that if I mention it or if I think about it its going to jinx it so I try to put my brain on other things.
Finally with less than two minutes left in the game and the outcome decided, Chiarenza subbed Ralston out and assistant coach Drew Slaght could hold it in no longer.
42, he blurted out.
Ralstons final tallies of 42 points and 10 made three pointers were both Capilano school records. They were important points as well as the Blues came back from an early deficit to claim an 83-63 win. Shooting 10-15 from three-point range and 16-31 overall in the game, Ralston also chipped in seven rebounds, three assists and six steals.
It was one of those games where you could tell she was just so dialed in. I dont think any of them even hit rim. . . . Shes probably the best pure shooter that Ive ever had and weve had some very good shooters come through our program, Chiarenza said about the fifth-year forward from Mission. At one point in the game Ralston knocked in four three-pointers in five Capilano possessions.
The release is so quick and its so flawless, said Chiarenza. Everything she puts up, even if its contested, has a chance to go in. And it sets a lot of the other stuff up. They have to chase her off of the perimeter and shes so cerebral that shes able to take it, put it on the bounce and get some other people involved. Shes actually leading us in assists this year.
Ralston described what it felt like to be in the zone, the place where athletes go when they can do no wrong.
You just know that no matter what you do its going to go in, she said. Its a great feeling. You try to get your shots up as much as you can while youre feeling like that.
Both Chiarenza and Ralston credited the rest of the Capilano squad for making plays and finding her in open spots.
People were excited to give me the ball and I wasnt going to pass that up, said Ralston. Having the team behind me was really important. We had 29 made field goals and had 25 assists, so our team was definitely working together.
Rookie Hayley Boulier also put up big numbers in the win, scoring 12 points while leading the team with eight rebounds and five assists.
The Blues, sitting in third place in Pacwest play, now begin their stretch run with four games remaining before the provincial playoffs are held March 1-3. The Blues advanced to the national championships last season and are hoping to get back there this year. And they wont have to leave their home gym to do it all of their remaining league games and the provincial tournament will be held at the Capilano Sportsplex.
I like our chances against anybody in our own gym, said Chiarenza. I think weve got a real shot to run the table and go back to nationals.
However far they go, Ralston will be a big part of their success. The five-foot-10 forward leads the league in scoring average and is sixth in assists.
She does so much for our team, said Chiarenza. The nice thing about her is she can hurt you in other ways. And if a team decides theyre not going to allow her to shoot the ball, theyre not going to allow her to score, it doesnt hurt us as much as you would think . . . because shes very good at getting other people the ball in the right spots and using the attention to free other players up.
No matter what happens to end the season, Ralston said she is going to finish her Capilano career with her guns blazing.
Im leaving everything out there, she said. Theyre going to have to pry me off of the court when Im done at the end.
The Blues begin their stretch run with a pair of home games this weekend. On Friday Douglas College will be in town followed by Columbia Bible College on Saturday. On both nights the action begins with the women playing at 6 p.m. followed by the men at 8 p.m.
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