All season, he told his players that basketball is a game of runs and to never stop believing. On Saturday, Seaquam head coach Lucky Toor was wearing the spoils of victory as his Seahawks became the first team in Delta history to win a B.C. senior girls basketball championship title. (Photo by Garrett James property of Langley Events Centre 2024. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

BC Girls Quad-A final: In a zone of their own, Seaquam rallies with a perfect fourth quarter to stun defending champs & No. 1 seed Riverside, becoming Delta’s first-ever senior girls provincial hoop champs!


By Howard Tsumura

LANGLEY — It’s one thing to have a secret weapon you’re pretty sure can get you out of just about any sticky situation you might run into on the basketball court.

It’s another thing entirely to have the patience which allows you to actually keep that secret, even though it sits in your back-pocket like that smartphone app just waiting to be pulled out and scanned.

Nope, this one had to wait for the perfect rainy day.

And last Saturday night, when the figurative storm clouds rolled into the Langley Events Centre to signal the start of the final quarter of play in the entire 2023-24 B.C. senior girls basketball season, Seaquam Seahawks head coach Lucky Toor knew that rainy day had finally arrived.

With his No. 3 seeded Seahawks trailing the No. 1 Riverside Rapids of Port Coquitlam by its largest deficit of the game at 58-48, Toor figured it was now or never.

First, he abandoned the man-to-man schemes his team had played about 99 per cent of the season, and then he huddled his team and told them it was time to play to take their 1-3-1 zone defence out of moth balls.

Then he watched as the figurative rain drops he was trying to ward off  quickly turned into a monsoon of big, old three-point splashes as part of  what would eventually stand as a 79-73 title-game win.

With a rapt audience sitting on their every move, Riverside’s Avery Sussex (right) is guarded by Seaquam’s Priya Toor during Championship Saturday action in the B.C. Quad-A championship final March 2, 2024 at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Garrett James property of Langley Events Centre 2024. All Rights Reserved)

The victory makes Seaquam the only girls basketball team from Delta to ever win, at any tier, a senior provincial high school title.

“We made a couple of defensive tweaks in what we were doing,” Toor said of the 1-3-1 zone, which must have been pretty tough to keep under wraps all year based on the way that the players he plugged into it’s schematic performed. “It’s something we had in our back pocket that we hadn’t really tried all season. We had a good talk (in the minute between quarters) and we said ‘Well, it’s now or never.’ We have 10 minutes to define our season, let’s go out and leave it all on the floor.”

Yet before Saturday’s final, both teams found themselves returning to a key intersection over two months ago.

It was back on December 16, in the championship final of the Tsumura Basketball invitational, on the same Centre Court gym floor as Saturday’s B.C. Quad-A final was contested, that the Seahawks met the Rapids.

That Saturday night Seaquam made what now stands as a prophetic statement, putting together a huge run in the fourth quarter to win the game and the TBI title with a 74-68 victory.

The way Seaquam won December’s game, by dominance on the offensive glass and knifing cuts to the rim by guard/forward Camryn Tait may not have been the same as Saturday’s B.C. final.

Yet the there was alarming similarity to the way these Seahawks were able to rally late with a combination of poise and fury.

“We only played zone for a total of about 20 minutes all season,” Toor continued. We have been a man-to-man team all season but we believed in our zone because we thought we could get some turnovers off of it, and that is all we were trying to do: Get some extra possessions in the fourth quarter.

With proper launch codes received, Seaquam Seahawks’ three-point ace Mackenzie Henderson unfurls one of her seven long-distance makes against the Riverside Rapids during Championship Saturday action at the B.C. Quad-A championship final March 2, 2024 at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Wilson Wong property of Langley Events Centre 2024. All Rights Reserved)

Never one to over-complicate things, Toor and lead assistant Jim Sidhu made the switch to zone look simple, and simply incredible.

Riverside had gone on a 6-0 run to close the third quarter to build that 10-point lead, with all the points coming off the bounce as the Rapids discovered their physical dribble-drive game was not being stopped in the paint.

First Annabelle Neufeld, then Rae Roycroft and finally Jorja Hart scored on driving lay-ins.

But the zone flipped the script almost instantly and took away the champs ability to get to the rim.

Just 18 seconds into the final quarter, Syra Toor, who had been 0-for-5 from downtown, dropped the first triple.

About 90 seconds later, Mackenzie Henderson did the same, and a minute later, there was Toor again with another triple, all of coming in early offence.

All of a sudden, just two-and-half minutes into the fourth, the Seahawks were within two points at 59-57.

When asked how big the switch to zone was in affecting the game’s ultimate moment of momentum reversal Toor was emphatic.

“One-hundred per cent,” he said. “It put (Riverside) in scramble mode. They were not able to get back and set up in their zone.”

Yet it’s never just the schematic.

It’s the way personnel suits the scheme which needs individually at its five spots, length, lateral quickness, overall foot speed, anticipation, communication and, most of all, belief in each other.

Toor installed the long and athletic Grade 10 Tait at the front.

“Her length and can bother a lot of people,” said Toor, moments after cutting down the winning net at the LEC, as he began to explain what he was looking for as he populated each part of the 1-3-1 zone.

“We put Sydney right in the middle,” he added of 6-foot-3 Grade 11 post Sydney Roufosse, who brings great strength and size.

“Then Syra (Toor) and Mackenzie (Henderson) because they get a lot of tips in deflections,” he added of the Grade 10 and 11 guards respectively who flanked either side of Roufosse.

“Then we had Callie (Brost) on the back end because we need a fast one there that can cover corner to corner,” he said of the Grade 10 guard.

Henderson would go on to add another three-pointer later in the quarter, one of seven she fired home on the night, and the one which put Seaquam ahead to stay at 64-62 with 5:46 remaining.

The bucket capped a 16-4 run to open the third quarter, one which swung the 10-point deficit to a six point lead in a span of just 4:14.

Seaquam’s Syra Toor steps up on defence against Roverside’s Annabelle Neufeld during Championship Saturday action in the B.C. Quad-A championship final March 2, 2024 at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Garrett James property of Langley Events Centre 2024. All Rights Reserved)

“I probably blew it by not stopping the momentum earlier,” said Riverside had coach Paul Langford in reflection. “They were very good, they were physical against us and they hit some shots. We built a 10-point lead and we earned it, but they went into a zone and we had a couple of bad possessions.”

Henderson admitted that she was not immune to the pressure as the fourth-quarter rally started, but she showed she was a master at controlling her emotions.

“Before every shot, I had to slow down and breathe,” said Henderson who was named the tournament’s first all-star team as the capper to a team-high 21 point outing, all on the strength of her three-point shooting (7-of-19).

“I know my role on the team and my job is to hit big shots at big moments.”

After Syra Toor and Henderson combined for those five triples, the entire floor just seemed to open up to Seaquam at their offensive end of the court.

And that is a significant point because Seaquam’s final five makes from the field came in the paint with two hoops from Brost and one apiece from Roufosse, Tait and Neelum Sidhu. The Seahawks final seven points then all came from the free throw line over the game’s final 58 seconds as Syra Toor went 4-for-6 and Brost 2-for-2 over that span.

Roufosse was a tower of power inside with 14 points on the night, including eight points in the second half. 

“Once the (three-pointers) started to fall the defence went out to the perimetre and the inside opened up, so I got much more open looks,” said Roufosse, who was named a second-team all-star.

“I am beyond happy,” she continued. “I love physical games, the games that I can give it.”

The Rapids’ senior point guard Avery Sussex, who was named tournament MVP after scoring a game-high 35 points, gave her take on the team’s fourth-quarter letdown from a 10-point lead.

“I think we might have just gotten ahead of ourselves, a little too comfortable… but the whole game was a game of runs,” she said. “We had ours, they had theirs. And they had another and we couldn’t stop it, so congrats to them.”

Seaquam’s Callie Brost (5) prepares to meet teammate Mackenzie Henderson with a salute for a job well done against the Riverside Rapids during Championship Saturday action in the B.C. Quad-A championship final March 2, 2024 at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Garrett James property of Langley Events Centre 2024. All Rights Reserved)

Tait — named the tourney’s Top Defensive Player — supplied 20 points to the title cause, and was Seaquam’s best player throughout the tournament.

And Syra Toor was perhaps the team’s key catalyst in the fourth quarter, where she not only hit two triples but effectively kept the Rapids’ at arm’s length over the final minute of play with her parade to the free throw line. She finished with 10 points. Sidhu finished with four while Priya Toor two points.

For the Rapids, Grade 11s Jorja Hart and Neufeld were each named to the second all-star team. Neufeld scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half. Hart, the team’s second-leading scorer on the season behind Sussex, scored 16, 10 of which came in the second half. Isla Kelly added three points in the loss, while Maliyah Mendoza, Rae Roycroft and Olivia Wheatley each added two points.

The only other school from Delta to play in a B.C. high school senior girls provincial final were Ladner’s Delta Pacers, who lost in 1976 to East Vancouver’s Notre Dame Jugglers 36-35 in what was essentially the B.C. 1A final as there were only two tiers of play in the province at that time.

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