By Gary Ahuja (special to Varsity Letters)
LANGLEY — It would appear age is just a number these days, with teams no longer deferring to the upper classmen in the pecking order.
Last year saw the Semiahmoo Totems (despite having its core made up almost entirely of Grade 10s) who captured the B.C. 3A (now the 4A) Secondary School Girls Basketball Championship.
The Terry Fox Ravens were a similar story as well as despite fielding a team full of Grade 9s, the Ravens captured the Junior Girls Basketball Provincial Invitational Tournament.
Both teams in fact went undefeated en route to their respective titles.
And now comes the next team in line as Kelowna’s Dr. Knox Falcons – made up entirely of Grade 9 players – are the top seed at this year’s junior girls championships. Full disclosure, however, as the middle school does not have Grade 10. The tournament’s second seed also happens to be another Kelowna squad, the Kelowna Owls.
Imagine three years from now what a team like this might look like when Kelowna’s 10 players are in Grade 12 and Dr. Knox’s eight players are in Grade 11, should they all end up at Kelowna Secondary?
But in the meantime, there is this year’s tournament title at stake.
The Falcons took the first step in proving that age doesn’t matter, posting an impressive 59-25 victory over North Vancouver’s Seycove Seyhawks on Wednesday afternoon as the 39th edition of the tournament kicked off.
The bulk of the junior girls games are being played at the brand-new R.E. Mountain Secondary School as well as Peter Ewart Middle School. Both are just a few minutes walking distance from Langley Events Centre, which will host the semifinals, bronze and gold-medal games.
Reegan Bond scored 17 of her 21 points in the first half for the Ravens in their win over the Seyhawks. It was Seycove’s second game of the day as they were one of the 16 teams to play twice in the Qualification Round while the Ravens were among the eight who received a bye into the second round.
Wednesday’s 16 games for the 24 teams has now split the teams into three eight-team brackets: the Championship Bracket (for first through eighth), the Showcase Bracket (ninth through 16th) and the Rivalry Bracket (17th through 24th).
And most of the pre-tournament seeding has held to form as Dr. Knox will play No. 8 MEI (42-39 winners over Belmont); No. 2 Kelowna (which beat College Heights 62-42); No. 3 St. Michaels University School (which beat Sa-Hali 44-26) is up against No. 7 Walnut Grove (39-28 winners over Fleetwood Park); and No. 4 Brookswood (which edged Claremont 57-53) draws No. 5 Sir Winston Churchill (57-29 winners over Yale).
No. 9 Belmont, No. 10 Fleetwood Park, No. 12 Yale, No. 13 Claremont, No. 14 Sa-Hali, No. 15 College Heights, No. 16 Seycove and No. 22 Kalamalka will enter the Showcase Bracket. The Rivalry Bracket features No. 11 Seaquam, No. 17 Mount Baker, No. 18 Brentwood College, No. 19 Robert Bateman, No. 20 Riverside, No. 21 St. Thomas More Collegiate, No. 23 Duchess Park and No. 24 Nisga’a.
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