LANGLEY — There was a moment just under two minutes into the fourth quarter of Thursday’s first Elite 8 AAA senior girls B.C. high school basketball quarterfinal showdown here at the Langley Events Centre where Faith Dut flashed a little bit of the comic book super-heroine side of herself.
The 6-foot-3 Grade 11 forward with Surrey’s Semiahmoo Totems had fallen to the court but refused to surrender the basketball, despite the best efforts of three separate Brookswood Bobcats players to rip it from her grip.
Showcasing not only an eagle-like wingspan, but a tenacious desire to engage in a playground game of keep-away, Dut, despite her prone position, actually found a way to get the ball to a teammate .
Not too soon afterwards, as part of an 87-56 win over the Bobcats that sends the before-their-time Totems into Friday’s Final 4 AAA semifinals, Grade 9 teammate Tara Wallack scored on a lay-in.
“I used to be really awkward, so tall and lanky, but then I grew into my body,” said Dut, formerly a serious dancer who became serious about hoops last season when she left New Westminster Secondary to spend time with a relative down in Lynden, Wash.
There, she played with the Lyden High Lions under head coach Rob Adams and was part of a team that went on to win a state title.
Moving back to Canada this season, she enrolled at Semiahmoo and her time spent under former Canadian senior women’s national team head coach Allison McNeill has been something akin to a finding her true basketball guru.
“I’ve coached some pretty good players on the national team,” said McNeill. “This is Faith’s third season of basketball, but she’s maybe played a season-and-a-half. But she just works so hard and she is one of the brightest players I have ever coached. It’s unreal how she picks things up. She didn’t know how to do a duck-in at the start of the year now she times them all.”
The growth in her game has been phenomenal.
As the Totems battled to find some early identity Thursday against Brookswood, the first thing they established was Dut’s 10-foot turnaround jumper on the block.
Then, as the Bobcats made their surges, Dut morphed into more of a power player, not only squeezing caroms outside of her area, but on her re-sets down low, playing through the contact with fierce attitude.
“I am definitely still growing,” says Dut, who finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks in the win.
I am definitely growing. I don’t want to stay with one thing. And sometimes you have to switch things up. I know that when my shot is not falling I have to get big and strong.”
McNeill has seen how her husband and coaching partner Mike McNeill, a point guard through his days at North Delta Secondary and Simon Fraser, has taught Dut, since the start of this season, how to block shots.
And she says Dut doesn’t have to settle for being one kind of player over another.
“I think she can be both,” McNeill begins. “She’s learning the game and loving to get better right now and that is invigorating for the coaches.”
On Thursday, Grade 9s Deja Lee and Izzy Forsyth had huge games for the Totems. Lee with 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Forsyth with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Dut , in fact, is the oldest main rotation player as a Grade 11.
Yet while she knows she has to set an example as a leader, she loves the fact that, despite her late start in the game, that he can still be a true student of the game.
…And one heck of a quick study.
Jenna Dick led Brookswood with 18 points while Janessa Knap added 14 points for the Cats.
Semiahmoo will face the winner of the Kelowna vs. Argyle game in a 5:15 p.m. semifinal on Friday.
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