LANGLEY — As one coach described them, the Abbotsford Panthers senior girls basketball team is a lot like that the young puppy you bring home for the first time.
“All it wants to do is play,” begins Brookswood Bobcats’ co-coach Chris Veale. “You say ‘Get away, I’m trying to watch some TV’ but they’re all over you. You turn one way and they’re there. You turn the other way and they’re there.”
Yet as the Panthers showed Saturday night in front of a full house at Brookswood, they also know how to bite.
Led by the 19 third-quarter points of Grade 9 guard Marin Lenz, the Abbotsford turned a tight 30-30 halftime deadlock into a 72-61 win over the host ‘Cats in the Fraser Valley senior varsity Triple-A final, and a likely No. 2 seed in the B.C draw set to be announced via livestream this Wednesday from the Langley Events Centre.
No. 1-ranked Oak Bay of Victoria, an 81-34 winner over Nanaimo’s Dover Bay in Saturday’s Vancouver Island final, is expected to be the No. 1 seed.
Georgia Swant was picked MVP in leading North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers past R.A. McMath of Richmond in the Lower Mainland final. The Pipers, Wildcats and North Van’s Carson Graham Eagles have secured the zone’s three automatic B.C. tourney berths. Sir Winston Churchill and New Westminster will play in wildcard games Tuesday (see below).
It’s their youthfulness,” continued Veale of an Abby team which plays just two seniors (Tausani Levale and Gabrielle MacGregor) in its main rotation and is led by Grade 11s Sienna Lenz and Sydney Fetterly, Grade 10 forward Kelsey Roufosse and the ninth-grade Marin Lenz.
“Their speed and athleticism is obvious. They are relentless, they are hungry and they are a program that is looking to make a name for themselves.”
Especially against the Bobcats.
For the second time this season, Abby topped Brookswood in a tournament final, doing the same thing a week before Christmas when they blitzed the Cats en route to a 28-point lead before hunkering down to win in the final of the Tsumura Basketball Invitational at the Langley Events Centre.
On Saturday, however, the key was finding others to step up against the blanket of defence cast on Sienna Lenz, who while still earning tourney MVP honours as she did at the TBI, was limited to 14 points.
“For us that is good,” said Panthers’ head coach Prentice Lenz, the father of the Lenz sisters. “They had a girl (Janessa Knapp) follow Sienna for 40 minutes so we needed others to step up.
Kelsey battled inside, and Syd and Marin did a great job of hitting shots in that quarter. It spread things out in a real gritty game. If we’re going to win we need something from everybody and we really got that tonight.”
Added Veale: “Defensively, we were all over Sienna, so I mean kudos to Marin, she stepped up huge. We just weren’t aware enough of her and then we left open shooters, and you can’t leave them open. They have four solid threats from the outside and we lost them a little in our defence.”
Marin Lenz, picked the championship final game MVP, scored 27 points.
Brookswood’s senior star Louise Forsyth led her team with 22 points, as the Panthers threw both Levale and MacGregor on her throughout the evening.
Jenna Dick of the Bobcats, who hit 11 three pointers and scored 44 points in a semifinal win over Panorama Ridge on Friday, scored 13, while Janessa Knapp added 11.
Fetterly was huge for Abbotsford, hitting five treys, including a pair in the third quarter, to finish with 18 points.
Riverside’s Shae Sanchez, Savannah Dhaliwal of Panorama Ridge, Marin Lenz, Dick and Forsyth were all picked Fraser Valley first-team all-stars.
In other Fraser Valley championship placing games played Saturday:
*Tavia Rowell scored 34 points and Jessica Wisotzki added 17 as Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators beat Surrey’s Panorama Ridge Thunder 71-62. Dhaliwal scored 31 points for the Thunder. Both teams advance to the B.C. tournament as the No. 3 and 4 seeds respectively.
*Maryn Budiman scored 41 points and Harneet Sidhu added 17 more as Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers salvaged a fifth-place finish with a 90-65 win over Port Moody’s Heritage Woods Kodiaks.
The Panthers came in with the Valley’s No. 1 seed, but after a second-round loss to Abbotsford were forced to win three straight games just to capture the zone’s fifth-and-final guaranteed berth to provincials.
Hailey Counsell led the Kodiaks with 20 points as Heritage Woods advances to a wild-card game Tuesday for one last shot at the provincial field. The Kodiaks will face Claremont at Stellys Secondary 4 p.m. in Saanichton.
*In the seventh-eighth game, Abbotsford’s Yale Panthers got 25 points from Madison Draayers, 17 from Sarah Thiessen and 14 apiece from Tana and Selah Pankratz to beat PoCo’s Riverside Rapids 96-82.
Sanchez scored a game-high 35 points for the Rapids. Sammy Shields added 25 in the loss.
Riverside plays Vancouver’s Sir Winston Churchill in a wildcard clash Tuesday (4 p.m.) at North Vancouver’s Carson Graham Secondary.
Yale travels to Fleetwood Park in Surrey for its 4 p.m. Tuesday tilt against the New Westminster Hyacks.
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