VANCOUVER — For the Argyle Pipers, the best half of their season was enough to not only make a little North Vancouver history, but get to the Big Dance with the zone’s shiniest shoes.
Trailing by a point at the half, the Pipers got the performances they were looking for up and down their talented roster to top Richmond’s R.A. McMath Wildcats 80-53 and win the Crehan Cup, emblematic of Lower Mainland senior girls Triple-A basketball supremacy, Saturday evening at Lord Byng Secondary.
“We went out of our way to schedule as many tough games as possible and we went out of our way to play the very best,” said Pipers’ head coach Anthony Beyrouti, whose team on Saturdsay found a way to slow McMath’s Abby Zawada in the second half while outscoring last season’s B.C. finalists 34-10 in the third quarter en route to the win.
“And we played (No. 1) Oak Bay two weeks ago and got to see what the best looks like. It rang true to the kids that they needed to work harder and it prepared us for this weekend, and we peaked.”
Last season, Beyrouti and current co-coach Anthony Fortunaso led Argyle’s junior varsity team to the B.C. title, and this season, those JVs melded with a character-laden senior group to produce some North Vancouver history: A total of seven Crehan Cups, one more than its crosstown rivals, the Handsworth Royals.
As Grade 12 Sierra Schefer, the recent Simon Fraser Clan signee, scored a team-high 36 points to earn championship game MVP honours, Grade 11 Georgia Swant, the MVP of last season’s provincial JV tourney, added 26 more and was picked the Crehan Cup MVP.
Grade 11 guard Chloe Walton led the Argyle defence while senior Kiana Mackay helped the spirited effort as Argyle got to the Big Dance for the first time in three seasons.
“Sierra was phenomenal, and she scored her 36 in the flow of the game,” said Beyrouti. “Chloe came in and led the defence and kept everyone active.”
And then there was Swant, who despite playing with a broken finger, turned in a marvellous Crehan week, including helping her team rally from 13 points down in a 60-57 semifinal win over Sir Winston Churchill’s Bulldogs on Thursday.
“She had a busted up finger but she led to the final,” said Beyrouti.
Slowing the talented Zawada was a huge key for Argyle.
“At the half she had 25 so we made a concerted effort to make she didn’t do that anymore,” said Beyrouti, who noted his team held the McMath star to six points in the second half.
Along with Argyle and McMath, North Van’s Carson Graham Eagles are also bound for the Big Dance, following an 83-56 win over Churchill in the third-place game.
Carson had dropped a 53-43 decision to McMath in Thursday’s other semifinal.
That means Churchill has one more chance to get to the LEC, and to do it they must beat PoCo’s Riverside Rapids in a 4 p.m. game Tuesday at Carson Graham.
New Westminster beat Handsworth 62-50 to claim the zone’s second-and-final wildcard berth.
The Hyacks will face the Yale Lions of Abbotsford in a 4 p.m. game Tuesday at Surrey’s Fleetwood Park Secondary for one last shot at the B.C. tournament.
Crehan Cup 2017
Tournament MVP — Georgia Swant (Argyle)
Tournament All-Stars — Sierra Schefer (Argyle), Chloe Walton (Argyle), Abby Zawada (RA McMath), Mahara Gibson-Zeinoun (RA McMath), Tanis Metcalfe (Carson Graham), Alex Walker (Carson Graham), Alex Leynes (Sir Winston Churchill), Katrina Kwong (Sir Winston Churchill), Sarah Forgie (New Westminster), Emily Wood (Handsworth)
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