The small (Shemaiah Abatayo) and the tall of Vancouver's Britannia Bruins. (Howard Tsumura -- Varsity Letters photo)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

Comic book marvels: Britannia’s shrink-&-stretch roster confounds Condors

LANGLEY — In the classic Marvel comic tales of The Fantastic Four, Mister Fantastic is the genius scientist who has been given the power to stretch his body into any shape he desires.

Think about that ability to go from large to small and any dimension in between, apply it to the roster of a girls high school basketball team and you have the squad which closed out Wednesday’s eight-game sudden elimination draw at the B.C. senior girls Double-A basketball championships.

With an across-the-board mix of tall, small, quick and powerful, Vancouver’s Britannia Bruins provide infinite possibilities for its head coach, the ageless wonder Mike Evans.

In Wednesday’s clash with the No. 7-seed, defending B.C. champion Duchess Parl Condors of Prince George, Evans got the chance to play scientist, his penchant for mixing, matching and ultimately creating mismatches carrying the No. 10-seeded Bruins to a 65-54 win.

“We started four guards and a post player, so we played four-out and tried to space the floor, creating gaps and cutting hard to the basket.

“Then we went with two bigs and that made it two in and three out,” he continued. “When we did that, one of their guards had to check one of our bigs and that resulted in the mismatches.”

The result?

With 6-foot-2 Grade 11 post Malena Mokhovikova an omnipresent member of Evans’ starting group, the addition of 6-foot-2 senior Saffron van der Linde who scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds off the bench created just the effect the Bruins sought. Mokhovikova added 10 points and eight rebounds.

And while the big line-up was successful, when Evans decided to shrink the collective group, there was also a spark, and it came from 5-foot-5 Grade 9 guard Shemaiah Abatayo, whose dead-eye shooting and terrific court sense led to a game-high 18 points and countless assists.

“Shemaiah is a tremendous athlete,” said Evans. “Super quick and a great shooter. She might get caught in the size game down the road, but she plays way taller than she is, if you know what I mean.”

Everyone in the crowd did.

Her ability and that of 5-foot-7 Grade 9 swing forward Surprise Munie (eight steals, six points, six rebounds), and 5-foot-4 Grade 11 guard Lucy Guan (11 points, seven assists) gave the Condors all they could handle.

By the midway mark of the second quarter, Britannia had built it’s largest lead of the game at 18 points, and although Duchess Park was able to mount a run and challenge, the early cushion proved enough for the win.

The Condors didn’t produce a doube-digit scorer but Logan Cruz led a balanced attack with nine points. Litsanna Thanos added eight and Kayla Gregory seven.

The Bruins will tip off in a 5:15 p.m. quarterfinal Thursday against No. 2 seed Langley Christian, a team they have not faced this season, but one whom Evans feels is a lot like his own.

“They have an outstanding post player (Katelynn Mallette) and we do, too,” he began, “and they have great shooters and so do we. It should be an excellent game.”

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