Lucy Xu of the Mulgrave Titans is a tower of power as she protects the ball from the Petyton Bryden (left) and Kealayna Tupas-Singh during the B.C. Triple-A championship game Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Blair Shier property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2023. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

Double-A: Titans, indeed! On road to a B.C. title, West Van Mulgrave’s dominate opposition in commanding fashion!

By GARY KINGSTON (Special for Varsity Letters)

LANGLEY – The runaway freight train that was the Mulgrave Titans roaring through Langley Events Centre the last four days easily ran over and through the last obstacle in its tracks on Saturday afternoon.

The West Vancouver school’s senior girls basketball team won the Double A provincial championships by crushing Pacific Christian from Victoria 91-53.

It was Mulgrave’s first B.C. senior girls title and was redemption for a heart-breaking 70-60 loss to Langley Christian in last year’s Double A final when the Titans couldn’t hold a halftime lead.

“It definitely feels amazing, especially after last year being so close,” said six-foot-one guard/forward Lucy Xu, who had 30 points and was deadly from behind the arc. “Getting into the final for the second year in a row and being able to win it this time, just amazing.”

As well as finishing second last year, Mulgrave has had a handful of runner-up finishes at the Single A level, so walking into the school on Monday morning as champions figures to be a pretty cool scene.

“It’s going to be crazy, really, really exciting,” said Xu “Our whole school has been so proud of us.”

And the winning may not be over. With the Titans lone Grade 12 injured and not participating in the tournament, they started four Grade 11s and a Grade 10. Presumably they’ll all be back.

“Just so proud of these girls, they put in so much time,” said head coach Claude Leduc, who said the program will definitely benefit from this “feather in the cap.”

“It’s a magnet, so to speak. It draws other girls to the program. We’ve been to (Single) A provincial finals three or four times and haven’t been successful. Now that we are, it’s like the girls know that all that time, all that hard work they put in pays off.”

Mulgrave’s Ava Wilson defends Pacific Christian’s Abi Ellison during the B.C. Triple-A championship game Saturday at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Blair Shier property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2023. All Rights Reserved)

The Titans won their first three games of the tournament by an average of 51 points and appeared well on their way to a win by a similar margin when they took a 50-19 lead at halftime.

The gutsy, undersized Pacers played better in the second half and got the lead down to 27 at one point. But the hole they were put in by Mulgrave’s rebounding advantage and three-point prowess was too much to overcome.

There was a sequence late in the first quarter that illustrated Mulgrave’s double-edged domination.

Six-footer Ava Wilson was fouled on an offensive rebound put back attempt and missed both free throws. Eva Ruse, who’s six-foot-two, and Xu both won offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive. But they both missed on put backs before the ball went back out to Jenna Talib who coolly drained a three-pointer.

So on one possession that was four of the Titans 52 rebounds before they hit on one of their six first quarter treys. For the game, the were 14-of-31 from outside the arc, with Xu and Talib (27 points) each hitting six.

Boards galore and bombs from the outside. The Pacers had no defence for either.

“They were huge and I don’t know how many three hits, but I can’t really count that high,” said Pacific Christian head coach John Stewart. “They were dropping them in from left, right and centre.”

Said Leduc: “We’ve got two of the best three-point shooters in the province on our team and our big (Ruse) she can know ‘em down from three too.”

Ruse, who was named the tournament MVP, was a standout with 11 points, a game-high 15 rebounds and four assists. Wilson, meantime, was just one rebound shy of a triple double as she contributed 14 points, 12 assists and nine dimes.

“This feels amazing, really rewarding,” said Ruse. “We put in a lot of work to get here and I think it showed. We’re just so happy.”

The Pacers were led by the dynamic sister tandem of Joaleah Tupas-Singh, a Grade 12 who had 16 points and eight assists, and Grade 9 Kealayna Tupas-Singh who chipped in with 15 points.

“Our girls battled, all heart, all the time,” said Stewart. “I’m so proud of them for giving it all on the court for all 40 minutes.”

While Leduc didn’t want to talk about whether Mulgrave might move up a tier next year, a grinning Stewart said he expects both schools to be playing at the next level.

“We played them in Single A for years and years, so we’re moving up together. Maybe we’ll see them in the Triple A final next year.”

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