We’ve just finished the 2017-18 season, but we here at Varsity Letters are already looking ahead to next season.
As part of a four-day countdown, we present the Pre-Preseason rankings for B.C. girls AAA basketball today, courtesy of the BCSSGBA.
On Friday, it’s the start of four straight days of B.C. senior boys varsity basketball pre-season rankings.
We’ll kick it all off with Single A, then follow with Double A on Saturday, Triple A on Sunday and Quad A on Monday.
SENIOR GIRLS AAA
LANGLEY — When last we left the Kelowna Owls, the Okanagan champions were adding an even more prestigious title to an incredible 2017-18 resume, that of B.C. AAA basketball champions.
Both as a nod to their recently completed run to the crown at the Langley Events Centre and to the top talent they return this coming 2018-19 campaign, the B.C. Secondary Schools Basketball Association has installed the Owls as the team to beat.
Here’s our look at the entire AAA top 10:
1 KELOWNA OWLS
While head coach Darren Semeniuk has lost the services of B.C. tourney MVP Taya Hanson, bound next season for Arizona State University, as well as three other main rotation seniors in Rachel Hare, Dez Day and Kasey Patchell, there is significant return in its rising seniors, most notably 6-foot post Kennedy Dickie and 5-foot-11 forward Jaeli Ibbetson.
The Owls will also fortify with depth from a junior team which placed seventh at the B.C. tournament.
2 WALNUT GROVE GATORS (Langley)
Their run to the first B.C. title in program history fell shy in the finals against Kelowna, yet rising senior guard Tavia Rowell is a singularly dynamic game-changing force. The Gators will not replace UFV-bound Natalie Rathler’s front-court presence, yet Rowell, 6-foot Jessica Wisotzki, Rolande Taylor and rising Grade 10 Sophia Wisotzki, picked the AAA tourney’s Top Defensive Player, form an enviable engine that will be fortified by the Grove juniors who won the B.C. title behind MVP Fania Taylor.
3 RIVERSIDE RAPIDS (Port Coquitlam)
Talk about experienced.
Its entire nine-player roster returns from a sixth-place finish at provincials. The rising seniors are led by the likes of Jessica Parker, Tessa Burton and Alanya Davignon, while rising Grade 10 Sammy Shields is a talent well beyond her years. The Rapids junior also qualified for provincials coming off a fourth-place finish in the Fraser Valley.
4 SEMIAHMOO TOTEMS
The question is, what’s next for the most groundbreaking group of underclassmen in B.C. girls high school history?
The Totems are coming off the AAAA Final Four and a fourth-place finish at provincials with six Grade 9s in their main rotation.
The rising Grade 10s — Raushan Bindra, Tara Wallack, Emily Wubs, Deja Lee, Nicole Pajic and Izzy Forsyth — along with 6-foot-3 rising senior Faith Dut comprise a team which could very well win it all for head coach Allison McNeill.
5 BROOKSWOOD BOBCATS (Langley)
Only post Brooklyn Golt and guard Tavia Jasper depart via graduation from head coach Chris Veale’s main rotation.
So from the backcourt to the wing to the frontcourt, seniors Jenna Dick, Janessa Knapp and Karsen Look will become seniors of influence. Dick is already one of B.C.’s elite guards. Now, she can mentor a talented group of returnees and a rising JV group which entered junior provincials with the No. 2 overall seed, despite their eventual 10th-place finish.
6 HERITAGE WOODS KODIAKS (Port Moody)
If head coach Ross Tomlinson’s Kodiaks had carried any semblance of health into provincials, they could have made a deep run. Playing eventual champ Kelowna in the 8:30 a.m. Day 1 opener tempered things right off the top, yet although tough-minded, multi-skilled team leader Hailey Counsell has left for the UBC Thunderbirds, some 11 total rising 11s and 12s are back including the dynamic point guard Jenna Griffin, Maddy Counsell, Breona Martin and improving 6-foot-2 post Emily Instant.
7 YALE LIONS (Abbotsford)
An eight-player roster loses half its ranks, including standout Madison Draayers, to graduation. But starters Tana Pankratz, Jessica Daley and Brooklyn White all return to form a solid nucleus for head coach Celeste Dyck, whose roster will be fortified by a Yale JV team which finished fourth at its provincial tourney, led by the play of first-team all-star Kyleigh Boldt.
8 ABBOTSFORD PANTHERS
They will feel the graduation losses of Sienna Lenz and Sydney Fetterly, yet rising seniors Kelsey Roufosse and Beryl Kithinji will look to play larger roles alongside rising Grade 11 star Marin Lenz. As well, Lindsey Roufosse and Sarah Johnson return to bigger roles this coming season.
9 NANAIMO DISTRICT ISLANDERS
They came within a game of qualifying for the provincial tournament, falling in a wildcard play-in game against Yale at North Vancouver’s Argyle Secondary. Said to be senior laden and expected to be among the best teams on Vancouver Island next season.
10 CENTENNIAL CENTAURS
The Coquitlam school has a glorious past history with back-to-back AAA titles in 1987 and ’88, as well as a finals appearance in 1991.
Current group, which includes standout Grace Killins, has worked its way up the ranks under the guidance of head coach Lucian Sauciuc.
MEI Eagles (Abbotsford), Okanagan Mission Huskies (Kelowna), Panorama Ridge Thunder (Surrey), Mt. Baker Wild (Cranbrook), R.A. McMath Wildcats (Richmond)
(Rankings by BCSSGBA)
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