Welcome to Day 3 of the B.C. girls high school basketball championships.
We invite you to keep checking back on this posting throughout Friday for updates from the championship side of the draw.
Stories by AARON MARTIN (special for Varsity Letters)
SEAQUAM SEAHAWKS 52 YALE LIONS 48
LANGLEY – A dominant final quarter from Grade 8 guard Syra Toor proved to be the difference in the BC Junior Girls championship semifinal Friday afternoon. The Seaquam rookie poured in 13 points over the final 10 minutes to help her no-2 ranked Seahawks claim victory over the no-6 seeded Yale Lions 52-48.
Toor ended the contest with a team-high 29 points, while Ava Hepper shot the lights out on the other side – the Yale forward led all scorers with 22 points, including six makes from distance.
The game came down to a furious stretch in the final minute. With Sequam up 47-45, Toor caught and drilled a beautiful corner three to make it a two-possession game. After Tylin Manning got back a hard-fought bucket for Yale, Priya Toor made a slick run to the hoop, and her layup made it 52-47
Manning had an opportunity to make it a one-score contest again after getting fouled in close. With 14.6 seconds left, the Yale forward went to the line and knocked down the first free throw. The second clanged off the rim, and Seaquam took possession.
They never gave it back.
“I think it was about composure,” said Seaquam head coach Lucky Toor afterwards. “Even when things weren’t going our way, even when we weren’t making shots we can usually make, we just kept working. This was a championship-level game and could have gone either way. Both teams played their hearts out.”
And on his rookie guard’s performance? The coach pointed to the middle two quarters – in which Syra Toor didn’t make a shot – as to the reason she was so influential.
“She’s one of our best shooters,” said the head coach. “She was off in the middle there, but we encouraged her to keep pressing, keep shooting, because we all know she can make them. And for her to come out the way she did in the fourth, as a 13-year-old, is unbelievable. I couldn’t do that at 13.”
A tight first half had the Lions up just 21-19 at the break. Neither team could create much in the way of separation, as the margin never got bigger than five points. Heppner had a game-high nine points on three triples over the opening 20 minutes, while the younger Toor had six points to lead Seaquam’s first half offense.
Leading 25-24, mid-way through the third quarter, Yale head coach John Borseth took a timeout.
However, Seaquam was the team that came out of the break with renewed energy. 6’3” center Sydney Roufosse began to impose her will in the paint, and between second-chance opportunities and a few earned free throws, Seaquam broke off a 7-0 run before Addia Currie knocked down a triple to stem the tide. Overall, Roufosse alone had nine points in the third quarter as Seaquam took a 32-30 lead into the final frame.
“We knew that Sydney was going to be one of our biggest advantages,” admitted Toor. “We hadn’t been establishing her with the angles we wanted in the first half, but she’s been huge for us all year, and you can see how she can change a game.”
Seaquam will now need all the game-changers they can get, as the move onto the championship finals tomorrow afternoon. Set for a 1:00 pm showdown with the no-4 seeded South Kamloops Titans, Toor hasn’t allowed himself or his team to get in their own heads.
“Enjoy the moment,” said Toor about the advice he’ll have for his squad. “Anything can happen in a championship game. We worked our tails off to be here, and all we need to do now is relax and play ball.”
SOUTH KAMLOOPS 66 LITTLE FLOWER ACADEMY 58
LANGLEY – The No-4 seeded South Kamloops Titans earned their right to play on the province’s biggest stage Friday afternoon, surviving a furious comeback attempt from the No-8 seeded Little Flower Academy Angels in a 66-58 triumph at the BC Junior Girls Basketball Provincial semifinals.
Outscoring South Kamloops 26-13 in the final frame, getting some clutch shooting from guards Maria Drazenovic and Isabella Heffring, Little Flower Academy closed the margin to as little as that final eight point gap, but it wasn’t quite enough to come all the way back after a dominant first half from the Titans.
Considering the Eagles’ impressive comeback win over top-seeded St. Michael’s University School Blue Jags in yesterday’s quarterfinals, Titans head coach Del Komarniski had to make sure that the thought of a comeback wasn’t changing how his team played the game.
“They began that furious rally at the end there,” noted Komarniski. “We just kept things in perspective, tried to keep doing our jobs and keep it as simple as possible dealing with that. We didn’t try to overcomplicate things. We stuck with what we do, and it worked out.”
After a slow start on both sides following the opening tipoff, the game started to open up. South Kamloops guard Lucy Marchese and Drazenovic went shot-for-shot on a quick back-and-forth, swapping triples as the Titans pulled out to an 11-5 lead.
Grade 10 guard Kianna Kaczur was the engine behind an early second-quarter surge for the Titans. Already up 17-10 at the break, Kaczur scored nine points as part of a 12-0 run for the Titans, forcing Little Flower head coach Carlie Paxton into a timeout.
Riley Tsui and Drazenovic helped the Angels stem the tide coming out of the break with a couple of quick baskets, but South Kamloops never allowed Little Flower to close the gap. Kaczur eventually turned the heat back up down the stretch – the Grade 10 guard seemed to be everywhere on both ends of the court as her late rally saw the Titans take a commanding 43-19 lead into the half.
“I thought for the most part we played with a lot of composure,” said Komarniski. “Little Flower does a great job of disrupting normalcy. They get after, chase the ball, and create havoc. Our plan was to try and avoid havoc, and I thought that for the most part, we did.”
Kaczur and Marchese would finish the contest tied a game-high 22 points apiece, while Claire Juca and Drazenovic notched 14 apiece to lead Little Flower Academy.
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