LANGLEY — For Surrey’s Semiahmoo Totems, the beat goes on.
Fifty-seven straight victories and counting against B.C. foes, back-to-back senior girls Quad-A titles, and this coming season, a chance to complete as dominant a three-season span as any team across any sport in the history of B.C. high school athletics.
It was back on March 3 of 2018 that the Totems last tasted defeat against an in-province opponent, that being a loss to the Abbotsford Panthers in the bronze medal final at provincial tournament.
All head coach Allison McNeill’s Totems have done ever since is average back-to-back 28-0 seasons, a feat which if accomplished over the course of the 2020-21 season would make Semiahmoo the third program this century to three-peat, matching Heritage Park (2000-02) and Brookswood (2004-06, 2014-16).
With all of that said, it’s no surprise the Semiahmoo, fresh off the most decisive B.C. title game win in provincial girls history, are set to open at No. 1 when the season tips off in late November.
All eight rising seniors return, led by its ever-impactful top six of reigning B.C. tourney MVP Tara Wallack, 2019 B.C. tourney MVP Deja Lee, Izzy Forsyth, Raushan Bindra, Nicole Pajic and Emily Wubs.
While the Totems have proven themselves to be in a class of their own, the No. 2-ranked Walnut Grove Gators of Langley have barely missed a beat in terms of re-tooling its lineup following the 2019 graduation of Tavia Rowell and Jessica Wisotzki.
Head coach Darren Rowell guided his Gators to fourth place at provincials without a senior on his roster, and thus all 10 are set to return led by rising senior guard Sophia Wisotzki, one of the province’s elite talents on both sides of the ball.
Fellow rising senior, forward Anneke Cairnie, as well as rising Grade 11 Fania Taylor are also back, as is rising Grade 10 Kiera Pemberton, who in her senior varsity debut as a 6-foot Grade 9 guard flashed off-the-charts potential.
Five of this past season’s Gators could have played JV, yet its junior team was still talented enough to finish sixth at provincials, and talents like rising Grade 11s Hope Nystrom and Emma Slade will both bolster and embolden the senior varsity roster.
Checking in at No. 3 are the 2018 senior champion Kelowna Owls, who like the Gators are showing a penchant for being to reload on the fly.
Five departing seniors, led by the likes of Rylee Semeniuk and Katrina Fink, will leave a void, yet rising senior forwards Shiah Holmes and Paris Kirk are set to become true fixtures while the program is set to receive perhaps one of the largest rising bounties in the history of the provincial girls game.
The school’s own KSS junior Owls finished third in the provincial tournament with a roster of 10 rising Grade 11s. Meanwhile, its feeder school, the Dr. Knox Falcons, fielded an all-Grade 9 team which won the B.C. junior title.
At No. 4 is a Terry Fox Ravens team out of Port Coquitlam which returns in tact, complete with 10 rising Grade 11s, from the team which lost to Semiahmoo in the last month’s B.C. Quad-A title game.
Talent abounds throughout the roster, which is led by the likes of guards Cerys Merton and Lauren Clements, and forwards Emily Sussex and Ana-Maria Misic.
At No. 5 is PoCo’s longtime traditional powerhouse program, the Riverside Rapids, who have continued to bring youthful promise to a roster which has been led by rising senior and San Jose State recruit Sammy Shields.
The 5-foot-8 Shields, along with rising Grade 11 guards Brooke Kendal and Venica Davignon, could get some much-needed height in the frontcourt from rising Grade 10s Alexis Hart (5-foot-10) and Nicole Hughes (6-foot).
2020-21 PRESEASON GIRLS QUAD-A RANKINGS
1 Semiahmoo Totems (Surrey)
2 Walnut Grove Gators (Langley)
3 Kelowna Owls
4 Terry Fox Ravens (Port Coquitlam)
5 Riverside Rapids (Port Coquitlam)
6 Brookswood Bobcats (Langley)
7 Yale Lions (Abbotsford)
8 Earl Marriott Mariners (Surrey)
9 Heritage Woods Kodiaks (Port Moody)
10 Burnaby Central Wildcats
HONOURABLE MENTION — Fleetwood Park Dragons (Surrey), Panorama Ridge Thunder (Surrey), Claremont Spartans (Victoria), Handsworth Royals (North Vancouver), John Oliver Jokers (Vancouver)
Langley’s No. 6 Brookswood Bobcats were surprising due to their absence from the provincial tournament last month, but head coach Chris Veale not only played the entire season without a senior on his roster, he was also without two of the team’s top players — 6-foot forward Lexis Knop, guard Neyha Lali — following ACL injuries.
Both are itching to return as rising seniors, as are the rest of the team’s 13-player roster led by the likes of Mackenzie Cox, Quinn Jasper, six-footer Kelsey Lalonde and Jamie Retting.
In addition, the junior team, fresh off a fifth-place finish at provincials, could supply a vast cache of talent led by high-scoring Cassidy Buchanan, and also including the likes of Emily Povey and Danielle Jack, the latter a pair of 5-foot-10 forwards.
At No. 7, Abbotsford’s Yale Lions take a hit with the graduation of seniors Neelam Rai, Kyleigh Boldt and Lily Borseth, yet nine returnees will do much more than keep things afloat for head coach Bobby Braich’s squad, which is coming off a program-best third-place performance at provincials.
The rising senior trio of 6-foot-2 forward Jayden White, and guards Karishma Rai and Julie Dueck showed themselves to be go-to players during the Lions’ run at provincials. There is also younger talent on the way, too, including rising Grade 10 guards like Maggy Curtis, who spent the season at senior varsity, and Caleigh Reimer.
Surrey’s Earl Marriott Mariners open the season at No. 8, and they are led by the prolific exploits of 6-foot rising senior scoring whiz Elana Sireni.
Joined by fellow front-liners and rising seniors Esmeray Demibas and Mina Djordjevic, head coach John Sowerby’s squad is coming off a huge 2019-20 season in which it split four games at the provincial championships.
Port Moody’s Heritage Woods Kodiaks sit at No. 9.
Guard Jenna Griffin and forward Kiara Kozak will leave some big shoes to fill, yet the Kodiaks not only have experienced rotation players in rising seniors like Maddie Falk, Lauren Tomlinson, Olivia Pero and Rachel Hall, there is also help on the way from the program’s Fraser North junior champs who finished eighth at provincials with a group that included rising Grade 11s Haley Hughes, Raeann Bettles, Jenny Lee and Makenna Clough, and rising Grade 10 Kaitlin Mean.
And finally, the No. 10 slot goes to the Burnaby Central Wildcats.
Led by rising Grade 10 guard Jade Huynh, who averaged 25 points per game last season, and rising senior forward Priya Dhaliwal, the Wildcats may well be bolstered by several members of the program’s B.C. bantam champions.
Both Huynh and Dhaliwal will be playing their third seasons of senior varsity basketball.
The B.C. senior girls preseason Quad-A rankings are produced by the B.C. Secondary Schools Girls Basketball Association.
Varsity Letters did not play a role in the selection process,
Rankings for Triple-, Double- and Single-A tiers are not available at this time. If they are made available by the BCSSGBA, you will find them right here.
If you’re reading this story or viewing these photos on any website other than one belonging to a university athletic department, it has been taken without appropriate permission. In these challenging times, true journalism will survive only through your dedicated support and loyalty. VarsityLetters.ca and all of its exclusive content has been created to serve B.C.’s high school and university sports community with hard work, integrity and respect. Feel free to drop us a line any time at email@example.com.